President Donald Trump didn't much care for conversations about his "legacy" ahead of leaving office on Jan. 20. But any hope he had of being remembered in a positive light is fading, the Washington Post's Phillip Bump wrote Monday.
Former communications director Anthony Scaramucci recalled a conversation he had with Trump in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo.
"He wants to make money," Scaramucci said. "He does not care about his legacy. He has told people privately, 'Why do I care about my legacy? I'll be dead.' So, he's looking at the next two, three weeks. How am I going to make money off this?"
Now it appears Trump realizes that the final year of his presidency, particularly the final month, cemented his legacy in the annals of history.
The CNN special by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the failures in the management of the coronavirus pandemic revealed the Trump administration's incompetence and the hostility scientists faced trying to tell the truth to the American people.
Dr. "Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House response under Trump, expressed her belief that the deaths that occurred after the first wave of infections last spring were largely preventable," Bump summarized. "It's a sentiment that matches recent research but was at odds with the sanitization practices of the Trump White House to which Birx had so often adhered. [Dr.] Anthony S. Fauci, the country's top epidemiologist, suggested that it was government experts, not Trump, who had decided to push forward quickly on a vaccine to combat the virus in January 2020. That was months before the administration rolled out Operation Warp Speed, its push for vaccine development."
Speaking Saturday night at a Mar-a-Lago wedding, Trump ranted that a deal with Iran was imminent over the nuclear treaties, something that Iran denies. In fact, Trump entertained the idea of bombing nuclear sites in Iran, something that could start another Middle East war, the BBC reported. Iran also added the names of 48 officials from the Trump administration with requests for arrest issued through Interpol. That doesn't generally happen when negotiations are going well.
"Most modern presidents, even controversial ones like George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have at least enough institutional legitimacy to be seen as reliable interlocutors about their own tenures," Bump wrote, comparing the former presidents. "One can envision either of them or Barack Obama sitting down alongside a panel of historians at an event hosted by a prominent university, discussing presidential decision-making and its ramifications in good faith. It's quite difficult to imagine Trump doing the same thing, as difficult as it is to imagine his sitting down with someone like NBC News's Lester Holt and offering his honest assessment of his own missteps."
All of the political capital Trump may have had was wasted simply trying to stay in office, Bump explained. First, he misled the American people about the 2020 election, claiming he was entitled to win. Then he had to justify why he should remain in office after his armed supporters attempted to overthrow the legislative branch of government.
Trump called into Fox News last week trying to excuse the actions of his supporters who beat police officers during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Trump also claimed that it has worked out better since he was banned from all social media sites because the media picks up all of his statements. Bump argued it's a delusional characterization because Trump now must rely on the media he once attacked to pay attention to him.
Trump is toying with some ideas for how he can get back in front of the cameras. Creating his own social media site where he couldn't be banned is one thought. Trump could also write a book, but the public president wouldn't have much insider information to tease readers with to sell copies. The four years of his presidency unfolded in real-time on Twitter for the world to see.
"Trump's legacy is already rocky, to put it mildly — and we don't yet have a full picture of his presidency," wrote Bump. He then urged readers not to cry for Trump as he rushes to Fox News for help after spending months attacking the network.
"The problem for Trump is that his family — even his extended family in conservative media — will likely not be who is etching his presidency in the history books," Bump closed.