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Hey, it's Ron, if you haven't listened to our new trailer, give it a listen now it'll explain our new name and that as of February 1st, this podcast is independent from the Lincoln Project. It'll also explain why we're expanding the scope of things we're talking about on the show. And I could not be more excited to have you with us on this journey. Welcome to Political. We are staring down the barrel at the greatest mental health crisis this country has ever seen for various reasons.


I mean, it's the kind of crisis we wouldn't be equipped to deal with at the best of times. But we are so weakened, we're weakened by four years of horrifically bad governing where weakened by the extraordinary amounts of division, where weakened by the fact that one side rejects reality, rejects science, rejects basic human decency, and were weakened by the intersecting crises of covid and the ensuing economic fallout and weakened by the fact that the last two things were totally avoidable since the attack on the capital.


I've been wondering about the impact that it could have on our collective mental health, why so many people would storm the capital to benefit Donald Trump. The compounding effect of a year laden with traumatic events, Trump's insidious technique for gaining followers and how we can protect against it in the future.


I'm thrilled that our first guest joining me today is Mary Trump. As many of you know, because you sent such glowing reviews of our last conversation, Mary is the author too much and never enough how my family created the World's Most Dangerous Man. She is a graduate of Tufts and Columbia University's, holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies. And she is also Donald Trump's niece, Mary. It is so great to have you back with us today.


I'm so thrilled to be back, especially on your first show. This is really exciting. It's very exciting for me. So when we spoke back in September, you said you'd finally be able to sleep after January 20th and maybe the interregnum was a little more difficult than you were expecting. But how have you felt over the last couple of weeks? I was so young and naive back then.


Actually, the interregnum was a was as bad as I thought. It actually could potentially be worse and it could have just didn't know quite what form that was going to take. But I actually was naive enough to think that things the temperature would sort of immediately turn down on the 20th.


I mean, I guess it has, but we're we're not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination. So the sleep thing was was not going to happen.


So I want to start with this quote from your book where you're writing about the 2016 election that night. And then the next morning you wrote, I was wandering around my house as traumatized as many other people, but in a more personal way, it felt as though 62 million nine hundred seventy nine thousand six hundred and thirty six voters. But who's counting had turned this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family. So given the fact that nearly 63 million people voted for your uncle in 2016, how do you process the number increasing to 74 million in 2020?


I'm still in the process of processing it. Actually, it's heartbreaking. It's an absolutely heartbreaking number for a couple of reasons. One, I think it would have had less that would have mattered a little bit less. I mean, it still would have mattered, but a little bit less if Biden had won in an absolute landslide and if Democrats had increased their margins in the House and taken the Senate by a significant number, not one.


So the fact that neither of those things happened makes that number even worse because Donald and his enablers needed to be utterly repudiated.


Yeah, and they weren't. Yeah, because yeah, don't get me wrong, it's great that he lost. If he hadn't, this can't even imagine where we would be right now. But the Republicans did well, at least compared to expectations. And I think that's partially why we see how things have played out since January 6th. So how did you feel when you learned Joe Biden would become president? I was I was really happy for about an hour and well, maybe it was longer than an hour.


But as soon as Donald started his nonsense and as soon as it became clear that the Republicans were going to let him keep pounding the drum, I stopped being happy.


They quickly I mean, I was relieved, of course. Yeah. But they were playing with fire.


They know it. And every day that went by that Mitch McConnell and everybody else in the Republican caucus wasn't calling Biden, declaring him the winner, telling Donald to shut up was a day we were getting into more and more dangerous territory.


Yeah, so. So let's go to election night 20, 20. And that's take me there. It's two, three a.m. Eastern. And Donald comes out to tell his supporters this is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment for our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. And as you mentioned, it would be days before enough votes were counted to know that Biden won. So at that moment, what were you feeling?


Because I'm assuming that maybe you were less shocked or less surprised than almost anybody else by the tenor of his remarks?


Yeah, yeah. Of course. Because and again, this was something else that I think that many people, I'm sure, thought before the election it needed to be called quickly. Mm hmm.


And the longer it took to call it, the more room there was going to be for him to start sowing division and making false claims and riling people up.


And lo and behold, you know, I wasn't I didn't go to did I go to sleep that much if I did go to sleep that I didn't I didn't go to sleep in despair.


I mean, I wasn't happy because the fact that he still maybe had an opportunity, although the numbers were looking good and I I knew and the media should have prepared all of us for a long few days, which they didn't.


So it was it worried necessarily because of the way the numbers were looking in the graphs, graphics were looking, but I wasn't comfortable by any stretch.


And you had been outspoken. You even said it in our in our last conversation that Donald was using attacks on in voting to cheat in the election. And now we know from Jonathan Swan's reporting for Axios, which is just wonderful, that Donald even said that if he was ahead on election night, he was planning to declare victory. Could you foresee this several months long attempt to overturn the election?


You know, again, I knew how desperate he was going to be because, you know, we have to put this in the context of the fact that Donald has been actively trying to steal this election since the phone call with Vladimir Zolensky, and he's never stopped.


The problem is the media stop paying attention.


It's like, OK, he was impeached, but he was acquitted in a show trial in which there were no witnesses called his his active measures against election results, saying it was rigged if Joe Biden won even before anybody voted his installing a crony at the post office to destroy the most obvious, undermining people's confidence in mail and voting during a pandemic, et cetera, et cetera, that stuff wasn't being covered the way it should have been. He was actively cheating.




So given the lengths he went to and the fact that he still failed, I mean, just imagine, you know, I think about this the 2016 election to imagine what the margin of victory would have been in 2016 without Russia, without James Comey, et cetera, et cetera. Same thing, 20, 20, without Donald's cheating and all the people who were helping him cheat.


So given the fact that he still lost decisively and increasingly decisively, I knew they lost over and over again.


Yes and yes. Thanks to his idiocy, he lost like, I don't know, I think. Does this mean that Joe Biden won like four hundred times as you get to be president for sixteen hundred years now? I don't know.


So although my logic. Right, right. Well, only if it were him, of course.


So it increased his desperation, which that didn't surprise me.


And again, I swear, I'm such a Democrat. I'm Charlie Brown kicking the football.


I really didn't think for some bizarre reason, I guess because it was so decisive a margin. I didn't think the Republicans. We're going to let him go, keep going on and on, and imagine what would have happened if on November 7th every single Republican or, you know, Republican in relative power said Donald was fighting one, we're done here. He would have kept ranting and raving, but nobody would have been listening.


Right. And that essentially brings us to the insurrection. So I want to spend a little bit of time on that and how you were feeling, you know, what was going through your head when you saw the insurrection at the Capitol? I assumed you watched it live.


Yeah, I tuned in like a minute before the some representative brought the objections of the Senate in the House had to split.


And that was really quite soon before the mob started making its way into the Capitol. And because we only had the view from the outside, like, you know what, I guess we saw the that they you know, they must have gotten word inside. So senators and representatives started scattering. Right. So, OK, that's not nothing. But mostly we were just seeing it from the outside and it was very difficult to make sense of what it was because it wasn't video from Libya.




Something right. So honestly, at the very beginning, it just looks so tawdry. Yeah. You know, I mean, it's like, oh, of course.


Because everything Donald's involved in, it's just so demeaned.


And then obviously it was much more much more serious than that. Like that was the first like these these despicable people with their despicable flags and, you know, their toxic masculinity and its utter failure to misunderstand what. What's going on inside and what they were doing meant it was just disgusting. Yeah, and then of course and then not soon after that, we realized that it was much more than that.


Yeah, but it was perfectly emblematic of who Donald is and why.


Yeah. So you said that there was no question that Donald wanted his supporters to storm the Capitol. Can you help us understand our listeners understand what would motivate him to encourage that violence?


He believed he may still believe, for all I know, but certainly up until then, he still believed that there was a chance that he was going to somehow figure out a way.


You know, it's not an accident that before January six, he was trying to convince people that Mike Pence actually had the power to call the election in Donald's favor, even though Mike Pence's role on that day was purely ceremonial.


Yeah, he had no power at all.


But the fact that Donald was trying to convince people of that suggests that, you know, he somehow thought he could bring pressure to bear on Mike Pence to overstep what we've now learned.


I'm actually shocked that Pence didn't because even threats of hanging didn't get him to exercise his constitutional responsibility to invoke the 25th Amendment. That's that's another story.


It's a different conversation. Yeah. Yeah. But does that issue you mentioned that you think Donald really believed it and essentially had deluded himself into into believing that. Does that take us back to the, you know, the cult of the power of positive thinking stuff that we talked about? Maybe you can reprise that from our last conversation and how, you know, Jonathan Swan asked him about that, about that during his interview. And in essentially it was a it was it was a question about how how do you reconcile, like the fact that reality is not what you want it to be.


And his answer is something along the lines of I just I just believe it's different. It can you can you unpack that for us?


Yeah, Norman Vincent Peale was a minister at Marble Collegiate Church, which my grandparents ended up belonging to, I think Donald was married there. And what would appeal to my grandfather wasn't certainly the religion because he had no use for religion. But Peel's book, The Power of Positive Thinking. And the thing is like, I don't think my grandfather ever read the book. He just the title was all he needed. And it essentially the shtick was, if you think positively enough, only good things will come to you.


You will get whatever you want. And if, on the other hand, bad things happen to you, it's your fault.


And that works out really well for a sociopath who, you know, never steps a foot wrong and gets enormous amounts of help in terms of political connections and government funding. But if you're, you know, somebody like my grandmother who had osteoporosis and was getting injured all the time, or if you're somebody like my dad who had substance abuse issues, then that's really cruel because it's your fault. It's your weakness of character.


You're just not thinking positively enough. So clearly to learn that it's a mistake not to be somebody who, you know, never admits to making mistakes, who never admits to being weak in any way. So he and, you know, that's one of the reasons we got into this disaster with covid, because he could not ever admit that something was wrong, because that would mean to be associated with it, even though that's insane.


And here we are with four hundred and fifty thousand Americans that, you know, listen, impeachment trial, insurrection.


Sure. Between covid and what happened at the border. I don't understand why Donald's not in the friggin Hague, but that's another issue.


Sorry. So no, not at all. But but you brought up I want to come back to the insurrection in a minute, but you brought up covid and we learned from Dr. Fauci in late January that Donald told him to be more positive.


So how can we understand the annexion uncovered through that lens?


I think initially it was because of his inability to associate himself. Was anything bad? No, of course. Of course. It's not going to happen. It's got we have 15 cases. It's going to go down to zero because in his mind, that just that project's strength.


But it also inoculates him against being seen as weak or being seen as failing or being associated with something that really had nothing to do with him.


But that's that's part of his psychosis or his psychopathology, rather. So that got us way deep into it to the point where just talking positively about it wasn't going to get us anywhere. And if that kept happening, things were going to get completely out of control. So the reason they got completely out of control was because in order to change course, Donald would have had to admit that he'd been wrong, because for most of us, mature adults, course, correcting means evaluating our actions in retrospect, realizing that maybe we should have done something differently and then changing our minds for him.


Of course, correcting means admitting you were wrong. And he can't do that any more than he can associate himself with anything negative.


So while we're on this topic of covid and before we come back to the insurrection, I just want to mention four hundred and fifty thousand Americans dead, nearly half a million covid deaths. And and I just want to take a moment to ask you what impact this level of mass death could have on our collective mental health. We are staring down the barrel at the greatest mental health crisis this country has ever seen for various reasons. I mean, it's the kind of crisis we wouldn't be equipped to deal with at the best of times.


But we are so weakened, we're weakened by four years of horrifically bad governing. Where weakened by the extraordinary amounts of division, where weakened by the fact that one side rejects reality, rejects science, rejects basic human decency, and were weakened by the intersecting crises of covid and the ensuing economic fallout and weakened by the fact that the last two things were totally avoidable. So we have to start grappling with this right now, because I think what's going to happen is as soon as people start emerging after the vaccine is distributed widely enough, etc.


, or we've reached herd immunity, we're going to start seeing symptoms like after the first Ohara, we're free again. We're going to we're going to see people start having to face the fact that they've been traumatized. And we have the analogy I use.


It's like it's as if this country had been at war and every single one of us got sent off to war at the same time. But, yeah, we're involved at varying degrees. Some of us were on the front lines facing enemy fire. Some of us were filing or some of us were medics. But and we all came back at the same time. Yeah. And if we don't start thinking about it and preparing for it now, you know, it's sort of similar to the medical issues with covid.


We had we knew that this was coming. We knew one hundred years ago what had been done wrong. This stuff was totally avoidable. The mental health crisis could have been at least mitigated, if not totally avoided. So it's partially being prepared, but an understanding also how we got here. My my next book is called The Reckoning, and it's essentially about this mostly, but it starts with talking about the history of trauma in America and how this country was born in trauma.


It was born in the trauma inflicted by the majority on two entire races of people.


It's it's a trauma of genocide and enslavement that has not only never been atoned for, but it's never been acknowledged. And we see it how this has played out, the fact that that certain minority populations have have been affected by covid inordinately and we see it with the vaccine rollout. You know, the most vulnerable populations aren't getting the vaccine to the degree they should be.


So it just it's it's an attempt to understand how we got here. It's an attempt to lay out some potential strategies for dealing with the short term fallout. But it's also, I guess, a guide.


As to how we create structural change so that we're never, you know, caught flat footed again.


Yeah, I am so looking forward to reading this because I agree with you that it's such an important, important issue.


And it but it does feel overwhelming, you know, that the scale of this the crisis that we're facing, how important is it, you know, just as a starting point that that we begin to talk about the stigma around mental health and how do we do that? This is a shockingly still an issue. You know, it's it's just amazing to me how we still can't quite.


Deal with this properly, I think, you know, the basic level, it's because in the West, there's this ridiculous bifurcation between physical and mental health, which makes it seem like it's something separate. Right. Which it it isn't. Yeah. And there's also the sense that mental health is a luxury. That's.


Well, yeah, that's true. Although when someone says, you know, I have to go to the doctor, you know, my my leg's broken or something. There isn't the same stigma of going to a doctor to have them address the wound or just for a regular checkup, as there is with, you know, I'm going to see my my therapist. There's no stigma, right? There's nothing at all. Why do you think that persists, given everything we know about mental health and everything you're spending your days writing about right now?


And then again, how do we how do we begin to open up those conversations and remove the stigma? Because it seems to me like that's the first barrier to addressing the the crisis.


You know, it's a complicated issue. And, you know, I don't I certainly don't have all of the answers. I I'm guessing at some point it's sort of a financial thing to because it's expensive. But I think, you know, it starts with the fact that it's considered this separate thing. And and I'm not saying that we should buy completely into the medical model of psychiatric disorders, but, you know, a lot of the stuff is chemical and physiological.


And, you know, nobody would ever tell me not to stop taking my asthma meds. Right.


So, you know, but then there's the fact that certain things like I have PTSD, I don't have PTSD because of a chemical imbalance. Yeah. I mean, I'm sure it affects, you know, there are epigenetic effects or in the long term. But, you know, I have PTSD because of something that happened to me. And I think we're going to be seeing a lot of that in the next few months.


But why that puts it in a separate category is is is continues to be mystifying. And I think that we need to you know, we need to elevate our conversations about mental illness and psychiatric and psychological disorders. There should be you know, there's a surgeon general. There should be some cabinet level position right now that addresses mental illness, because you see it, you see it in the VA, you see it.


I mean, it's everywhere. It affects everybody. And in some ways, it's more costly in some ways than, you know, diseases of physiological diseases because people don't understand it. There's not there's no you know, there's very little support system at the community level and just the lack of understanding. And if we can change that, there's no better opportunity than now. I mean, we're we're going to hit rock bottom. And if that's what it takes, well, then so be it, because we we're we're in for a very difficult time after having experienced a very difficult time, so many difficult times on so many traumatic things that that we're processing.


And I want to come back to the insurrection now. But I think these two issues are are really interlinked. On Monday, we saw Congresswoman Alexandria, Costa Cortez spend it out in about an hour and a half talking about her experiences during the attack on the Capitol, how she was forced to hide from the attackers. I want to dig into the the trauma that that these elected officials must be facing. And and like I want to talk about the trauma that the people who were there also must be dealing with at this point.


You mean the perpetrators? I mean I mean both, I mean, yeah, I mean all of it. How do you how do you view that event through a mental health lens?


You know, it's interesting. It's it's sort of all connected like this is to me that that that was sort of the the culmination of telling people for a year that covid as a hoax and they shouldn't have to wear masks.


And, you know, one thing Donalds really good at is making people make micro concessions.


Might say more about that. Well, you know, he'll do this sort of thing. If you were ever on his plane, for example, he'd say, hey, isn't this the greatest thing you ever seen and you don't want to be rude.


So you say, yeah, that's the worst I've ever seen, even if you couldn't care less.


So he gets you to buy it a little bit. A little bit.


And if you're prone to you know, if you have authoritarian leanings or if for some bizarre reason you're taken in by his sort of superficial charm.




Then that leaves you open to making even greater concessions over time. So the the experience of the Capitol was sort of the logical conclusion to a year during which we were split. Along, you know, people say, oh, you know, we're living in two realities, no, we're not. There's one reality and the other people are living in some bizarre escape, which, you know, they're perfectly happy putting their themselves, their children and their fellow human beings at risk of death because they don't want to wear a mask.


And yet because, you know, we shouldn't tell them what to do with their bodies.


And yet women, you know, it's just insane.


So and what we're also going to find is that even people who were convinced that covid wasn't a big deal, they're going to be suffering to pick either because they're going to realize at some point that they were being lied to. They a lot of people are seeing that now on on parlor's that we've seen the meltdowns and stuff, but. Right, yeah.


Or they're just they are going to have to exist within the devastation that they helped cause.


So at the capital, again, we see, you know, there's one side and again, all the congresspeople are not innocent. Right. However, despite the fact that they were probably pro insurrection, I mean, did they seriously think that the mob was going to come and ask for ID before they killed them? Are you a Republican? OK, you're a Republican, but are you are you pro insurrection or not? You know, there weren't going to be carding people, right.


So there was that one clip of the of the of the of the rioters in the Senate looking at Ted Cruz's objection, thinking that it was that he was selling them out, but it took them a minute to put together that he was actually on their side. And that caused a lot of confusion. Right.


And even though, I mean, I couldn't care less about Ted Cruz, except that he should be in a federal prison, even though he's was completely supportive and one of the major instigators in this case. Yeah.


Even he must have been traumatized because it didn't matter which side you were. You were right.


People being attacked. You were the people whose whose place of work was no longer safe for you.


And then on the other side, the attack, you know, all of those people are complicit in four deaths and the murder of a policeman. I mean, that plus the fact that they all went in there, not at all expecting that there would be consequences for their action, right?


A lot because of white privilege, but also because I mean, this is my and I think we're seeing more evidence for this. But to me, this was clear from the very beginning. This was coordinated. This was planned. Yeah. So they must have felt that there were people high up enough. To protect them because they had no compunction about doing what they did and totally desecrating, you know, our capital.


So and some people are never going to get it because they're part of the worst of us. You know, that 22 percent of us, that is just. In incapable of changing, it has no desire to change, they just want to hate who they hate and, you know, the goal of liberal democracy is to contain those.


Right. The problem, though, is that from twenty seventeen to twenty nineteen, one hundred percent of the federal government represented those people. So their disease of racism and misogyny and white supremacy metastasized. And I think that's a large reason why the number of people who voted for Donald increased so significantly.


So what impact could the demeaning language that the Donald and his enablers used to talk about, to talk about Democrats, broadly speaking, of the way these things metastasized and Nancy Pelosi and specifically, how how could that language have had what impact could it have on the insurrectionists actions?


Well, if you if you convince somebody that a person in government who has a considerable amount of power is out to destroy your country, you know, because all of these people claim to be deeply patriotic with their friggin Confederate flags and their swastika, I mean, it's just incredible. But, you know, they claim to love this country. And if you demean and dehumanize people to that degree and make it clear that, you know, they are the they are the enemy, and if we allow them to remain in power, we may lose our country.


You know, it's not that hard. I mean, those people were incited, deliberately incited for weeks before this happened and very viscerally that day.


For hours. Yeah. Before, you know, they they passed the point of no return. I wanted to ask you to help us, and I think we're getting at it to help us understand why so many people would be willing to engage in an insurrection for Donald's benefit. And I think you're starting to speak to that. You also mentioned authoritarian personality disorder the last time that we talked. And he mentioned a couple of times here. And I remember that really helping me understand that we weren't talking about the authoritarian figure himself, Donald, the wannabe dictator.


But but actually, that applies to the people who are who lean toward that characteristic. Can you explain that? Yeah, you know, people who either have, you know, the number of people terrier personalities is is probably I mean, I don't know what the percentages, but it's not like it's not like all those 74 million people. Right. Right. But, you know, then there's a significantly larger number of people who have authoritarian tendencies.


And these are people who value homogeneity. You know, they feel threatened by demographic changes. These are people who value strong, quote unquote, leaders. And the reason I put that in quotes is because I know Donald to be the weakest person on the planet. So it just it continues to shock me that people think he's wrong.


But I need to get over myself because people do so.


A study was done recently that showed that tried to isolate the main factor that compelled people to vote for Donald. And it's not racism. It's not misogyny. It's not white supremacy. It's authoritarianism.


So when you have somebody so convinced that this so-called leader is going to protect them and, you know, save their version of America, which quite honestly is a fascist telescope, not democracy, but whatever, they don't know that, then it's going to get easier and easier for them to get them to cross a line that they may not have crossed.


I've been thinking about this a lot in terms of cults.


I mean, obviously, I'm still trying to work out how to how to make sense of it because I understand how cults work. I mean, these are closed systems, you know, and it's also like abusive relationships. It's not like on the first date the guy punches you. You know, it takes months, years, and then cults. You know, there are MicroCon sessions, as we talked about earlier. You know, you over time, you start accepting stranger and stranger things that you never would have done on day one.


And there were also micro aggressions. So but that's, again, in a very closed system in which the leaders control everything.


We don't live in a closest I mean, some of these people do, and, you know, there's the the closed information that they're only watching Fox, only watching Newsmax or OMON or they're only going on HLN or whatever it's called.


But they still they their children go to school. You know, they have jobs. They they have contact with people who maybe think, I don't know.


So it's it's a little harder for me to understand how they can be so thoroughly co-opted. But they are. And were. Were. Put into such a frenzy that they were willing to meet some of those people, went there willing to lay down their lives for their cause. What was their cause, by the way? Right. Right. You know, but that's where we are.


So what environmental factors do you think go into that? Is this a is this a you know, from the little I understand about authoritarian personality tendencies or disposition, I'm not sure what the the appropriate term is. It is it can be latent in a society. And there are certain environmental factors that that that bring it out or or or or make it more pronounced. Is that accurate? Yeah.


I mean, I think the fact that this is an incredibly racist country. And those views are there either tacitly accepted. Or they're championed and in the last four years, they've been championed, you know, it's the same same thing with misogyny.


And on top of that, you also have I mean, that's what I said earlier, you know, that the twenty two percent of the population that's usually contained by democracy was was represented by our entire government and felt the power of that. You know, they were in a position of power like they've never been before. And the Republicans have have you know, it's this is a four decades long project. They have been masterfully convincing people to vote against their own self-interest, to advance certain social causes.


And that's part of it, too. Plus the fact that I mean, I, I and I don't mean this as an excuse because the whole, you know, economic anxiety thing four years ago made me want to shoot myself because that was just code for racism.


But there is a increasing economic hardship across the lower classes in this country. There's an insane increase in the wealth gap between the very rich. The middle class is shrinking. You know, where we're finally raising the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour by twenty twenty five.


That's still none of that. I cannot imagine living on fifteen dollars an hour at six hundred dollars a week. That's insane. It's insane. How do you raise children. Making six hundred dollars a week, so, you know, so what's interesting is the Republicans who who are largely responsible for creating these environmental conditions are the ones who stoke them.


Yeah. And use them to get people to elect other people who are going to continue to exacerbate the problems while pretending that they're the saviors.


Yeah. So these other crises that we talked about earlier, the pandemic, the campaign against mail in voting, the Stop the Steele campaign, all of these things seem to me as environmental factors that sort of activate the the fear mechanism in our brains and sort of make us more especially certain people who have those tendencies are more likely to gravitate toward strongman rhetoric and, um. And conspiracy theories.


Yeah. And one of the things that Donald did do and I don't of as far as I understand it, it wasn't his idea, but it's something that he he glommed on to quite early because he realized how effective it was.


He added another enemy. So, you know, for reasons that I'm still trying to I mean, I kind of get it, but it still blows my mind that black people in this country are the enemy, even though, like where they know the white majority is the one who enslaved, tortured and, you know, and then we enslaved them and continue to steal their rights.


And it's incredible. But yeah. So black people are the enemy, but they needed an enemy from without as well. And that's where the wall came in and the hordes and the caravans and all of that insanity.


So I think it is part of the project to I mean, this all goes to our collective trauma, right?


Yeah. And and when there's in Wuthering Heights, there's a scene in which one of the main characters is having this terrible nightmare. And this this like Wraith is outside this tiny little child just outside of this blizzard and tried to get in.


And she breaks the window and the character grabs the kid's arm and starts screaming across the broken glass.


And the light is terror made me cruel. Oh, and yeah, that's where we are. You get people scared enough and they will not only vote against their own interests, they will they will take the rest of us down with them.


And when it's a really chilling line, yes, it's one of my favorite lines and all of literature because it's so evocative and it's so true.


And when you when you're dealing with people who live in very homogeneous communities, they have no contact with people who are different from them in any way. I think it is a lot easier. To tap into that fear. So what do you think, switching gears a little bit. What do you think compels people like Marjorie Taylor Green to be so beholden to someone like Donald? How how long do you think you know, how long do you think we'll see him influencing people to that degree?


Well, somebody like well, I'm not really sure about her.


I think it's more about her. Yeah.


I mean, I think if she had anybody who cared about her, they would put her on a 72 hour cycle for evaluation because she's deeply disturbed human being.


And the fact that she's in Congress says more about the people who voted for her than it does about her.


But let's say she's sane for the sake of argument. That's just about power.


They continue as long as they believe that Donald is the person who is going to be dictating where the Republican Party goes in the next two to four years as long as he stays relevant. And by the way, he should not have been relevant as of November 8th. The only reason he continues to be is because the Republicans are idiots.


Yes, they're making him relevant. Yeah. So want to come back to that. But yes.


So I think it's just power. It's pure power. You know, Mitch McConnell can say whatever he wants, but he voted with the 45 senators who claim that this impeachment is unconstitutional.


Yeah. So let's let's just watch what they do.


Yeah. I mean, we've seen people risk getting covid to go to rallies and we've seen people commit treason in his name.


I have to be honest with you. I understand the treason. I don't understand the covid. I don't understand. These are people forget it. Not just the rally people, but the people in the executive branch. The people in Congress. Yeah.


What is that? Who are smart people. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it cannot look, if you really thought that your life and the lives of your children were in danger, then nothing Donald said could get you to do something that reckless and potentially deadly.


Right. So something else is going.


I mean, I kind of like I think this whenever I have the great misfortune of seeing a picture of Jared and, you know, what comes immediately to mind is the Billboard movie that I like.


You just needed to be bars in front of you. But other than that, the billboard was great. But other than the billboard, when I see him, I think, you know, arrogance makes you stupid.




I mean, he might be stupid anyway, but yeah, for a lot of these people, it's just their sense of entitlement and their sense of privilege and the sense that, hey, it's way too special for this to happen to me. You know, and what was infuriating is that despite how many of them got, it didn't seem like many of them got it very badly. Right. And that's just doesn't seem fair.


So so I want to go to Kuhnen on for a minute and back to Marjorie Taylor Green and maybe less about her specifically, but more in general. What do you see as the dangers of having Kuhnen supporters in Congress? Because she's not the only one.


And and and the fact that what was once a small conspiracy that has now grown like wildfire and and now is espoused by people walking the halls of Congress, you know, talk about the dangers of that and and how you make sense of that.


Well, you know, it's incredibly dangerous. The more it's allowed to go on, the more influence it's going to have, the more people like her we're going to get in Congress, et cetera, et cetera. And I mean, this is happening because the Tea Party happened and, you know, at that time, not because the Tea Party happened, but because of how the Republicans in power responded to it. They actually thought that they could harness that monster, you know.


Yeah, that monster was riling people up and it was was getting people to believe in really stupid things have benefited, taxed enough already. OK, unless you're a trillionaire. Probably not. You know, and the Republican parties thought that they could cook and they got they had the tiger by the tail and they could hang on. And then over time, as sort of middle of the road, Republicans started getting primaried by people farther and farther and farther to the right and then started losing those primaries.


We are now at a place where one hundred percent of our elected Republicans are either complicit with, silent about or actively on the radical, you know, pro fascist.


Right. And they they can't control it anymore. So instead of being responsible, decent, pro-American, pro Democratic politicians, they are all in.


And, you know, you think Lindsey Graham is going to risk being primaried?


No key, because he'd lose. Probably he is going to be as rabid as they get. So I want to get your take on unity for a moment, because there's been a lot of talk about that since the inauguration and we did just live through an insurrection at the capital, what seems to be an attempted coup. And I want to know what you think about how important it will be to hold these bad actors accountable before we can move toward unity, which I think ultimately is where we ought to go and where where where America will find its stability.


But but it seems to me we can't really get there until we reckon with what just happened for lots of reasons. But I just want to know how you're thinking about that. You're absolutely right.


If we don't hold these people accountable, starting with Donald and going on down to the people who stormed the capital, you know, I don't care if they just wandered inside their insurrectionists and they need to be treated accordingly, then we're done, you know.


Yeah, could happen if we do not deal with that. Like, what is the what are the lessons that then are learned if we don't?


That the lessons that are learned is if you're a Republican president, you can do whatever you want.


You can steal from the Treasury, you can overturn elections, you can do anything you want. And in the last two weeks, you can fire whomever you can install whomever you can. You know, and I know this isn't going to happen, but part of me wishes that Biden would say, well, let's assume for the sake of argument that Donald gets acquitted.


That Biden would start, you know, just taking money from the Treasury and I mean, not that I don't want him to do anything illegal, but, you know, just taking money from the Treasury and I don't know, just distributing it to food banks or using it to build huge homeless shelters or, you know, I want Biden to start, like, breaking the rules, but for for good.


Right. And let's see what the Republicans do because there were no consequences for Donna. Why why should there be for Joe Biden? Obviously, there's a double standard. But, you know, I if there aren't if he's not convicted, then there has to be another way to test the system, because otherwise it's going to make it easier for a Republican to win. It's going to make it easier for them to win in twenty twenty two in the Senate and maybe take the House.


It's going to be easier for them to win in twenty, twenty four. And if they do win again, then we are this country will have felt so holding him accountable. And again I don't think I do not think the Republicans are going to convict. What I'm hoping is going to happen is the Republican sorry, the Democrats put on such a damning case that anybody who fails to vote to convict him exposes him or herself as a traitor to this country.


The American people who were paying attention will understand that and that the evidence will be so compelling and so egregious that the DOJ is going to have to step in and bring criminal charges.


In other words, to frame the question that they must vote on as America or Trump, literally. Yeah. Well, Donald. Yes. Yeah.


Donald Trump, thank you. Thank you so much for it. I know it's a lost cause.


So so I want to talk about before we leave this and then and then I want to ask you about the rest of the family. I want you to help us understand what impact the attack on the capital can have on our mental health, you know, through the lens of trauma. And I want to read you Judith Herman's definition of trauma, which I'm sure you're familiar with, which is at the moment of trauma. The victim is rendered helpless by overwhelming force.


Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection and meaning. And given that the entire country just witnessed this event, both the event and the last four years, how has our sense of control, connection and meaning been eroded?


Yeah, and it doesn't help that the insurrection happened after almost a year of loss of connection because of covid. And, you know, the one of the problems with trauma is that you can be traumatized by something you witness. You don't you know, we didn't have to be there.


Watching it on television was so destabilizing because it's like the fortress was breached our, you know, the symbolic fortress of our enduring democracy, which in a way is our safety.


It's a sense of security for us.




And this is after almost a year of our loss of faith in and our, you know, our inability to trust our fellow human beings. Because on the one hand, for for many of us, it's just been I mean, the isolation and, you know, if I think New York and New Jersey had different experiences at the beginning because it was sort of this unknown thing and it was terrifying in a completely novel way.


But, you know, generally speaking, over time, you know, it's the isolation and the mask wearing and sort of being being wary of your fellow human beings. That takes a toll.


But much more traumatizing has been having to acknowledge that the people who we entrust to take care of, to be professional, to keep us safe, were not just utterly untrustworthy, but actively trying to get us killed. And worsening a situation like we should have been done with this by May. So. On top of that, then, to see how fragile. This democracy of ours is I mean, despite fact, it's not really democracy yet anyway, and knowing how close we came to losing it and knowing that we still can't let our guard down because we still might lose it, it's it's exhausting.


It's it's demoralizing.


And yet we can't stop worrying, you know, so.


It's although it's it's tragic that January six happened after this year we lived in.


It's also not surprising and I know you're still working on this for your new book, but is there you know, is there anything about a potential framework for how to how how you're even thinking about a framework for how to how to approach this collective trauma that you that you want to share? Well, I'm still working. It's interesting that that the stuff that's happened in the last month has sort of complicated my project a bit, but. You know, the first thing I'm trying to do is take a step back and look at, yes, we're all traumatized, but we're so traumatized, we're traumatized and so many different ways.


You know, front line workers are traumatized another way. I mean, for a lot of us, like I said, it's it's sort of this passive trauma of. Like, I don't know about you, but when I see that forty four hundred Americans died in a day, that's friggin traumatizing. And because it is like we just kind of start getting numb to that, which is also really bad.


So, you know, and I've talked to I've talked to friends who were mental health professionals and they're traumatized in a completely different way because they're treating people while suffering from exactly the same thing, you know? So that takes a different toll on people who have young children or people who work alone. So there's a lot to kind of tease out there. But I think regardless of that, what needs to happen is a systematic structural approach to getting resources at the school level, at the local level, at the community level and at the federal level, because we can't you know, it's not like we can deal with this on a case by case basis.


We need something huge to happen. So, you know, and recognizing that, yes, they're all we're all traumatized in different ways to one degree or another. But we are all are traumatized and like that's sort of the point we need to start from. OK, I want to before we close what what do you think life looks like post presidency for Donald and your cousins, then?


I disown them.


I'm sure they can.


I mean, there's obviously a constellation of things bearing down on them right now. But, you know, take us into the like, give us a window into what's probably happening.


Well, I think the first week was probably it was the worst week of Donald's life. And unfortunately, as usually happens, somebody came to his rescue with this guy floating this idea of a third party, which then, you know, got the Republicans in line. Which is why most of them have already said they're going to quit no matter what. So that's a drag because as we said earlier, let's still get some relevance. It still gives him.


The sense that, you know, he will have a platform, although if they if the if Section three of the 14th Amendment isn't invoked, barring him from ever running for office again, then where that's that would just be horrific.


But all of that having been said it, I there's a way in which I think none of that's going to matter, because Donald is looking at dealing with three potentially very, very serious issues.


One is his facts. Nobody wants nobody is going to lend him money any more. Legally. And there's literally no reason for them not to start calling in their debt, which is, you know, in the hundreds of millions in the next two to four years, then there are at least three major lawsuits coming his way. One has potentially criminal, two of them have potentially criminal implications, and one of them, mine, has potentially very serious financial implications.


Plus also, it would, you know, if if all goes well and I clean his clock, it would be bad for him in other ways. But I think, honestly, the Egin karolos it is the most significant of them because, you know, mine is a fraud. Like we all know, the dollar commits fraud. It's not like it would be like anything new. It would be more the the financial punishments.


Right. E.g., Carol, if, if that goes well will you know, definitively show that those of us who believe emphatically that Donald is a serial sexual assault or slash rapist, you know, nobody is going to be able to pretend otherwise.


And then, of course, there are serious state level charges, certainly in New York, potentially in Georgia.


And I believe that if there's anything that good, good has come out of, you know, the post election period, it's the Donald's behavior has been so egregious. It's been so anti-American, it's been so dangerous that it increases the urgency of states attorneys general and district attorneys to throw the book at him.


So just one last question before we go. Um, I'm I'm really curious about what this past year was like for you here.


I mean I mean, you know, you were thrust pretty prominently into the public eye. During a very heated election and I wonder. What all of this has been like for you, honestly. covid spin the backdrop for everything, and, you know, people ask me how my life has changed. Well, you know, it has.


I mean, don't get me wrong, it it has been in some ways. Really, it's it's amazing, like I've made connections I never would have made before. I've had conversations with people I've never would have been able to have. You know, having a platform is cool and I intend to use it for good. So so that's great. But it's all in the privacy of my living room. So, you know.


And again, don't get me wrong, I like conversation, like being on, you know, TV for eight minutes. It's like that's like a chore. Yeah, like this this is the kind of exchange that that keeps me going because we get to talk about things in a really deep way. And, you know, it's conversation and it's productive in a way that, you know, being on MSNBC for four minutes isn't. Yeah. But again, you know, we're still living lives of isolation and we're doing this via assume as much as it would be fun to have you in the studio.




Yeah. And, you know, it's it's wearing it really wears on you.


And I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and just she started talking about how, you know, she's hit the covid wall, which I did about six weeks ago, and I'm still attached to it, apparently.


And and then she said, but, you know, I'm so lucky because I work at home and I don't have to worry about this.


And I'm like, you know what, to stop doing that because. Yes. Or other people suffering much worse than we are, of course. But it's still horrible. It's it's it's taking a toll on everybody and, you know. The good news, though, assuming we all get through this and get vaccinated and stuff, is that I feel like there is a lot to look forward to, you know, and that especially if I mean, hopefully Donald will go away.


But if the Republican Party continues down the road, it's going I would like I would love to continue to be part of that conversation. And it will be nice to do that outside will be very nice.


I will look forward to that. And maybe one day we can have one of those conversations here in person that would be really nice, but really would and then actually like go out for a drink in public with other people.


Mary, thank you so much for making the time for this conversation. And thank you to everyone at home for listening. If you have any questions or advice for us, we have a new email address and you can reach us at a podcast at Politico dot com. If you enjoy the show and find this work meaningful, you can also help us by reading and reviewing the show wherever you get your podcasts and by sharing this episode with anyone you think may find it interesting or useful.


I'm Ron Stessel. I'll see you in the next episode.