This Election Day has the potential to be epic. The repudiation of Donald Trump will bring unprecedented challenges to the results. Undoubtedly, Trump’s response to defeat will be dramatic and unsettling and anti-democratic. We all need to be prepared with a heightened sense of anticipation and watchfulness.
Anthony Scaramucci is a lifelong Republican and former White House Director of Communications. He has had a front row seat to Donald Trump and his presidency.
We asked Scaramucci a number of questions about Trump and his response to defeat on Election Day. His thoughts are both revealing and frightening.
What would you anticipate Trump’s reaction will be to a loss?
Trump will have a fight and then flight response. He’ll tweet furiously, try to discredit the process and appeal to his judges to overturn the results, but when he realizes it’s all over, he’ll slink out of the White House in shame. People say he’ll have to be forcibly removed – there is no chance of that happening. He’s too much of a coward to put up a fight.
Will he ultimately help Biden in a peaceful transition?
No, I don’t think Trump will offer any help to Biden in the transition. Given his deep narcissism and insecurity, any success in the Biden administration will be viewed as an affront to his legacy. He and his acolytes will do everything possible to sow division and sabotage the Biden administration. During Trump’s term we’ve seen that today’s Republican party is morally bankrupt. The modern GOP is focused exclusive on accumulating power, not improving the lives of the American people.
Why is he so absolutely desperate to be re-elected?
Two reasons. One, it’s an ego thing. He doesn’t like to lose. He compares himself to other people, especially President Obama, and if he loses it will be a personal failure. Two, he wants to avoid prosecution for his multitude of high crimes. I don’t think he ever wanted or expected to win in the first place. His 2016 campaign was an elaborate branding exercise for the Trump organization. He had prepared his entire messaging campaign around blaming voter fraud for his defeat, a narrative he’s repackaged for 2020. Nobody was more shocked and scared on election night 2016 than Donald Trump. Once he got comfortable in office and realized the cowardice of his Republican colleagues, he dialed up the brazenness of the corruption – shaking down foreign leaders for bribes in exchange for foreign policy concessions, diverting federal funds to his businesses and stealing money from his campaign. Now he’s in too deep to back down, but the walls are closing in.
You know him. Does he have any capacity for insight? Or is he totally self-absorbed?
Trump is completely self-absorbed and has no capacity for insight. He doesn’t listen to or take advice from anyone. That’s what I got most wrong in 2016 - I thought he would grow into the office of the presidency and be a pragmatic, post-partisan type of leader. What I didn’t realize is that he had no interest in learning, growing or serving the American people. He only thinks about how he can bend a situation to his own self-interest.
Will he enlist Bill Barr to try to have mail in ballots thrown out?
Yes, the GOP’s entire campaign strategy in this cycle is to cheat and suppress votes. The Justice Department and Supreme Court are like a venomous snake lying in wait to steal the election. We’ve already seen the groundwork being laid with challenges to mail-in ballots in places like Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Obviously, we know the history in Florida. Barr has been eerily quiet, I suspect in anticipation of an attempted heist the likes of which America has never seen. The GOP has no shame, which is why we need to tear the whole party down.
Why has he proven himself to be incapable of pivoting on any issue? Why he doubles down every time?
Trump doesn’t like to admit he’s wrong. In fact, it’s a core part of his personal philosophy: never apologize. I’ve only seen him apologize twice in his life. The first, to Melania after the release of the Access Hollywood tape. The second, to the family of the real Pocahontas for linking them to Elizabeth Warren. Also, he’s so insecure that he feels loyalty to those who show him support. He doesn’t really have any closely held convictions, other than self-interest. Even though it has hurt his reelection chances, he refuses to veer away from his base.
How will he try to steal the election?
The GOP is trying every which way to invalidate ballots, especially mail-in ballots. They sabotaged the postal service so delivery is heavily delayed. They have eliminated ballot drop box locations in places like Texas. They tried to reintroduce a poll tax in Florida. In South Carolina, they’ll use signature matching to try to invalidate ballots. They’ve purged voter rolls in Georgia. But the ace up their sleeve will be last-minute legal challenges to mail-in ballots. For example, in Minnesota, there are still around 500,000 mail-in ballots in transit. In a 2-1 partisan ruling, Minnesota judges instructed the board of elections to segregate ballots received after election day. The newly conservative Supreme Court will likely order those ballots tossed out, despite no precedent for such a decision. Judge Kavanaugh already issued a highly flawed and dishonest ruling about ballots post-marked before election day. The groundwork has been laid for an election day heist.
He seems ultimately self-destructive. Always shoots himself in the foot? How do you see that?
People who hate themselves are ultimately self-destructive. When things are going well for them, they find ways to self-sabotage. That was true of Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn, and it’s true for Trump. I think if he had opened the tent and been a more inclusive leader, he could’ve won in spite of the pandemic. Nobody hates Trump more than he hates himself, and it comes down to his father’s disapproval of him from an early age.
Beware of Donald Trump on Election Day. Scaramucci describes him as desperate, conniving, and anti-democratic. He will do anything to preserve his power and to fend off criminal charges against him.
Let’s be clear: Democracy itself is on the ballot tomorrow. Trump must be stopped. And his efforts to hijack the election must be thwarted.
Alan D. Blotcky, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.
Seth D. Norrholm, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Wayne State University Medical School in Detroit, Michigan.