I spent two decades conducting research for many global technology firms. What I learned to do reasonably well is to look at boxes full of data and see patterns. That same approach can be used when it comes to investigating Trump’s Russian connections and resulted in my new book on that subject.
We live in a strange world filled with real news and fake news. One very disturbing study revealed that many Republican voters get all their information on how to vote from Fox News and the ultra-conservative media including radio crazies and loony website columnists that see conspiracies behind everything a Democratic candidate does. It’s true some progressives are just as limited in their search for information. I tried to be far more objective.
Take the news reports on the dossier that Christopher Steele put together. Rather than rely on second hand sensational reports on golden showers, I read a published version of that dossier. It’s always better going for primary data whenever possible. Similarly, I also relied on published interviews by many people around Trump as well as many of his own comments.
Finally, I focused on a small select subset of the press that I found to be most scrupulous when it came to factual reporting. I would include journals like Foreign Affairs as well as the New York Times and Washington Post. There are reasons why journalists from these two newspapers win awards every year.
Did you know that many cable news shows make transcripts available? When Rachel Maddow interviewed a significant figure, I was able to go back to the transcript to see what this person said and not what I thought I heard him say.
Several things struck me when I investigated Trump’s history long before he ran for office:
Trump’s Psychological Profile Formed Early: Donald was raised in a very Darwinian way by Fred Trump. This cold, very nasty man instilled the value that only winners counted. It’s not how you play but whether you win that is important. He bullied his son. Young Donald had a lot of anger as a result. He once struck his teacher. He was discovered carrying a knife and sent to military school. His later bravado and constant bragging reflected a small frightened boy with low self-esteem who covered up for that with a loud facade. Psychologists say that if he allowed part of himself to see just who he really is deep inside, he might crack completely. This explains why he so viciously attacks anyone who has anything negative to say about him.
He Doesn’t Know What he Doesn’t Know: One very clear pattern with Trump is that he never placed much value on learning anything other than those things that he could apply directly to making money. He never has been a reader. More importantly, like George W. Bush before him, Trump has absolutely no intellectual curiosity. As a result, he often expresses amazement over something most people consider self-evident. He is shocked that healthcare is complicated or that China and North Korea have a complex relationship. Even worse, though, Trump often cannot admit he doesn’t know something because it would show weakness. He bragged that he didn’t need to take intelligence briefings because he was “smart” or that he knew more than the generals. He also remarked that he knew more about war than most people even though he didn’t serve because he went to military school and that was his Viet Nam.
He is Comfortable Dealing with Mobsters: Because Donald does not have a core set of values, he simply views people in terms of what they can do for him regardless of their values. Real estate development in Manhattan required him to deal with many shady people with mob connections. I believe Trump saw that as just a cost of doing business. Because of that, I don’t think he sees anything wrong with dealing with Russian oligarchs or even Putin himself. My book chronicles the many people he associated with early who were involved in illegal activities.
Everything is Personal: Because Trump’s self-esteem is so wrapped up in everything he does, he reacts violently at any setbacks. Rather than view attacks on his program as “just business” and not “personal,” everything is personal. If he ever feels he is threatened with impeachment or removal from office because of his psychological problems, he will react violently.