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by Bob Woodward
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
Bob Woodward -- joined here by co-author Robert Costa -- has produced his third book on the Trump presidency with Peril. It follows Fear and Rage. While recapitulating and refreshing some material from the earlier books, its real focus is the final year of the Trump presidency and the early months of Joe Biden's term of office.
As with many of the post-Trump books that have been released, it deals with the 2020 election and its aftermath, the January 6, 2020 insurrection at the Capitol, and the unprecedented second impeachment and trial of Trump. While there have been revelations in other books and the January 6 House committee investigation is ongoing, the Woodward trilogy of books will have an important claim for any future students of the Trump presidency. For those who have followed events closely, much is familiar: Trump's claiming the election was rigged and refusing to concede, the attorneys advising Trump like Rudolph Giuliani and Sydney Powell (whom Attorney-General William Barr referred to as a "clown car" [p.167]), Biden's fruitless attempt to negotiate his "rescue plan" with moderate Republicans leading to passing it without their support, and the continuing saga of having to placate West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in the hopes of getting anything done.
There are some revelations that are notable. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reached out to General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to ask what could be done if Trump got so out of control as to threaten to launch nuclear missiles. It was both a touchy and scary question because military officials are not supposed to be able to overrule civilian authority. Milley told Pelosi that she'd have to take his word for it that it wouldn't happen. [pp.xiii-xxviii]
There's also much detail on the pressure that Trump and others put on Vice-President Mike Pence to refuse to accept the Electoral Votes showing Biden had won when Congress was scheduled to certify them. He reached out to former vice president (and fellow Indianan) Dan Quayle who told him in no uncertain terms, "You have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it." [p.199]
Ultimately, it's clear that Woodward intended his books as warnings, as the titles suggest. The authors ask at the end, "Could Trump work his will again? Were there any limits to what he and his supporters might do to put him back in power? Peril remains."
-- Daniel M. Kimmel, OnTheIssues editor, Dec. 7, 2021
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Page last edited: Aug 26, 2021