'Like dealing with a child': New book details how Trump nearly destroyed the COVID relief bill
President Donald Trump pouts while listening to criticism of his plan to arm teachers (Screen cap).

Former President Donald Trump was so furious about the election that his behavior was "more erratic and self-destructive" than usual, recounted ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl in his new book Betrayal. The anger was enough that he almost sank his own COVID relief bill and left Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's reputation in tatters.

In December 2020, as the pandemic continued to rage, another relief bill was necessary to extend funding availabilities, allocated funds for broadband access for students attending schools online and further testing supplies. At the time, Trump was tweeting that it was a "disgrace" and that he wanted more money in checks for Americans. Republicans refused to agree.

Behind the scenes, however, Karl describes weeks of irrational rants about the election as Republicans begged the president to sign off on the stimulus.

Who could talk to Trump depended on where they stood on the 2020 election results. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was out, having already made it clear publicly that Trump lost the election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hadn't spoken to Trump for almost a year, leaving a strange situation where the president refused to speak with the House and Senate leaders. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was desperately trying not to say anything at all to avoid angering Trump.

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After attacking the stimulus bill, Trump's threats for a "veto and a government shutdown—actions risked triggering an economic meltdown during the final weeks of his presidency," wrote Karl.

He described a desperate McCarthy being "wheeled into an operating room for elbow surgery when he got a call from Trump saying he was going to veto the bill."

He and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) "spent the Christmas holiday on the phone with Trump trying to convince him to back down."

"As one person close to the negotiations with Trump told me at the time, 'It's like dealing with a child,'" Karl recalled.

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Republicans spent three days over Christmas begging Trump to sign the stimulus but instead, he "repeatedly changed the subject to manic talk about Democrats stealing the election."

Even after Trump agreed, the Republicans still had no idea if he was actually going to sign it until he actually signed it.

It made it clear that "as bad as things were," Trump "had the ability to make things much worse."

Newly elected President Joe Biden would make good on his promises for stimulus checks that actually helped Americans. The American Rescue Plan handed checks to people but also created the Child Tax Credit, lifting millions of children out of poverty.

Karl's book Betrayal is on sale now.

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