If You Want To Understand Trump, Understand This: Revenge Is What He Cares About Most

By David Corn
Mother Jones (1/30/18)

With the recent developments in the Tale of the Mad King—the revelations that President Donald Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last year, that Trump was enraged that former FBI director James Comey was allowed to fly back to Washington on an FBI plane after he canned him, that Trump told FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe he should ask his wife what it was like to be a loser, that Trump has supported the release of a dodgy classified memo drawn up by Republican aides that supposedly questions a super-secret surveillance order approved by the Justice Department—there has been much speculation that Trump’s master plan is to remove any institutional obstacle that might impede his ability to give Mueller the boot. That may well be true. Mueller, with his 16 prosecutors highly experienced in money-laundering, organized-crime, white-collar crime, and cybercrime prosecutions, has demonstrated a seriousness of purpose that ought to scare any sentient person on the special counsel’s radar screen. But there could be a more basic motive propelling Trump: his obsession for revenge.

wrote about this prior to the election (for all the good it did), noting that one constant in Trump’s life was his profound desire to get even and smite any of his detractors. Often he follows this impulse when a reasonable person might conclude it was self-defeating. As I noted back then:

Revenge—it’s a big part of Trump’s life. Following the first presidential debate, he spent days of valuable campaign time (and hours of valuable sleep time) slamming Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe. At other times during this contest, he could not let go of his feud with Rosie O’Donnell. He tried to smear Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the American-born federal judge hearing a fraud case against Trump University, as a “Mexican” unqualified to preside over this litigation. For days, he derided Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, after Khizr criticized him during a speech at the Democratic convention. He launched misogynistic attacks against Carly Fiorina and Megyn Kelly. Rather than attempt to unify his party after a divisive primary fight, he threatened to finance future campaigns against GOP rivals, most notably Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He encouraged violence against protesters at his rallies. And there were the mean and nasty nicknames: Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco.

Trump seems to live to settle grudges. For him, retaliation is a religion. But don’t take my word for it. Take his. In speeches and public talks Trump gave in the years before he ran for president, he hailed retribution as an essential element of a success. One example:

In 2011, he addressed the National Achievers Congress in Sydney, Australia, to explain how he had achieved his success. He noted there were a couple of lessons not taught in business school that successful people must know. At the top of the list was this piece of advice: “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe it.”

In that article, I cited multiple instances of Trump expressing this sentiment. In an 2007 speech, he shared his first rule of business …

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