But the most important thing we learn from this Very Important New Insider Look is that absolutely everybody except for Donald Trump was being noble and patriotic and doing all the right things during this time of crisis. From Mike Pence to Mitch McConnell to an ill-described grandfather clock inside the Oval Office, anyone who had any input on how the story was told was, it turns out, an absolute damn hero. And, as usual, there was nobody more heroic than Ivanka Trump, presidential daughter and official White House crazyperson wrangler, who was super-duper against the two month effort to overthrow America’s democracy and who only stuck close to Donald as he gave insurrection-baiting speeches and visibly unraveled inside the Oval Office because, as an American, it was her patriotic duty to keep her obviously insane father from escalating things to the point of civil war.
Reading through the account, the most surprising thing is that Ivanka never got her golden halo caught on any of the White House chandeliers. She must have walked very carefully!
Anyhoo, Ivanka wants readers to know that she was “upset” with Rudy Giuliani’s advice to her father that Mike Pence be made to overthrow American government. Ivanka wants you to know that both Keith Kellogg and the aforementioned grandfather clock can vouch for her being opposed to the whole let’s-do-a-treason plan. She was only at the Jan. 6 rally because she needed to keep “tending to her father,” who was off his damn rocker at that point, and not because she was an active participant in the family’s seditious plans. Melania could not make it to the event, because, and this is the actual damn excuse used, she needed to oversee a previously scheduled photo shoot of White House rugs.
While Melania wants you to know that glamor shots of the building’s carpeting was absolutely more important to her than keeping her delusional traitorous husband in check, Mike Pence wants you to know that he was practically Bruce Willis in Die Hard levels of kickass that day, refusing to be evacuated from Capitol safe zones so that he could do his patriotic duty of helping to certify the election once somebody, somewhere could be convinced to re-secure the building by driving out the rioting insurrectionists.
Inside the Pentagon, the role of sort-of-maybe-hero goes to joint chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley, who not only had decided he would not agree to “do a coup,” in presidential parlance, and pressured acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller to Maybe Do Your Fking Job At Some Point by mobilizing the National Guard. Miller himself appears to have not spoken to the reporters, as he is not portrayed as a ripplingly-muscled patriot but continues to look like an incompetent, bumbling maybe-accomplice to the day’s violence. It was Pence who finally ordered Miller to take his head out of the secure confines of his own ass, too late to do anybody much good.
It is important to take no accounts of “what happened” inside the Trump White House at face value, and this book excerpt is a fine example of that. We can easily interpret the version of history being put down here as the version of history that the Trump-adjacent louts most eager to speak to the reporter would like to see prevail, and there’s absolutely no question that most of the sourcing here comes from Ivanka Trump, Mark Milley, Mike Pence, and/or their immediate aides. It is all too perfect, too tailored, and in each case straddles the line of what we can plausibly believe given that each has a history of meeting Trump’s assaults on democracy with either public silence or displays that can be reasonably interpreted as complicity.
But even in these most self-serving of accounts, all involved agree that Donald Trump himself was glued to the television, not particularly put out by the riots or the violence, resistant too all staff pleas to help curb the violence, and so incapacitated that it was essentially Ivanka Trump’s job, throughout, to act as nursemaid continually calming her irrational father and attempting to rein in his demands as he himself repeatedly twitched toward escalating the situation. That’s the good interpretation of the day. That’s the interpretation that even Trump’s own favorite daughter wants to put out to the world to explain things.
The whole story revolves around Trump’s top allies watching him push sedition and contemplate doing even worse, and the heroism of the story is well at least we got through that. Nobody directly opposed Trump. Nobody told him to go to hell. During their angriest moments, a few Republican senators referred to him mostly obliquely as a cause of the violence they were denouncing—before joining ranks to block all further attempts to either investigate or punish his acts.
The “good” story is that Donald Trump was, by Jan. 6, so incapacitated that he could not make decisions, so traitorous that he refused to condemn a violent insurrection on his behalf, organized by his own allies, and so dysfunctioning that his adult daughter had to repeatedly intervene after his staff lost all ability to calm him. That’s the cleaned-up version that his longest-serving allies are freely admitting to.
The true version is assuredly much, much worse, and there’s still no assurance that we’ll hear it because Ivanka, Pence, and other top allies have been tightlipped about most of Trump’s private musings. The more details come out, the more things Trump’s staff have to explain away as they continue to justify their own support for a clearly incapacitated and incompetent sociopath. Why were Milley and other military leaders so convinced that a coup was a distinct possibility? What were the ideas that Ivanka Trump spent the day of the insurrection repeatedly trying to talk Trump out of?
There’s more to this than we’re being told. Still.