Donald Trump's study at Mar a Lago. He has a visitor, his former presidential aide Stephen Bannon.
TRUMP: The pardon wasn't good enough for you? What happened to your Chinese billionaire buddy? From the looks of you, you didn't come for the sun. You need a shave, a haircut, and a new coat. I'd say you're the same old Sloppy Steve, but I've always had a soft spot for you. So, what do you need?
BANNON: Look, I'm grateful for the pardon even though they're still after me.
TRUMP: You're not the only one. Let me check my pockets. Oh, I'm out of pardons.
BANNON: It's what I can do for you.
TRUMP: I need help? The fundraising, through the roof. I control nearly all the Republican money. They're begging for my endorsements. You see that Kevin McCarthy, trashed me, blamed me for my supporters trying to make things right at the Capitol, get the right result from the stolen election, and then he crawls here, wants to be petted like a dog, and then he goes on Fox and says I did the right thing at the Capitol, which of course I did, and of course he lied, lied, lied to begin with. And they call him the Republican leader. He says he's walking the tightest tightrope with me. He fell off a long time ago. You know who's the Republican leader? It's not that SOB McConnell and it's not that weasel McCarthy. I've never owned anything more than I own the Republican Party. No debt, no overhead, nothing, free and clear.
BANNON: You can still win.
TRUMP: I'm all ears.
BANNON: You can take over the Capitol.
TRUMP: A heist? An inside job?
BANNON: Ten thousand Proud Boys couldn't find Mike Pence. Here's a better idea: You run for the Congress, for a House seat, from Florida.
TRUMP: Why don't I just get a job working a leaf blower and get deported?
BANNON: First step, Matt Gaetz.
TRUMP: You think you can help him?
BANNON: He's a zombie with hair product. You run for his seat when they cart him off to the big house.
TRUMP: I'm moving from Mar a Lago to the redneck Riviera? Why would I want to be Matt Gaetz? I had better parties when I was his age.
BANNON: The party is the Republican Party. You can get complete ownership. You got 74 million votes in 2020.
TRUMP: More than any president ever, and I got a lot more than that, the votes were stolen. They'll still find them in Arizona.
BANNON: Area 51. You pulled votes that no one thought existed. And you pulled Hispanic votes and black votes. They won't come out to vote for a Republican, any Republican. They only come out for you. The rest are poor imitations.
TRUMP: Without me they wouldn't know who to imitate. They'd be walking into walls like wind-up dolls.
BANNON: If you run for a House seat, it'll be like a presidential election. You'll be at the head of the ticket. Every Republican will have to be a Trump Republican. The turnout will be the greatest turnout for a midterm election, a maximum turnout for Republicans. They'll come out of the caves again. A deplorables tsunami. Combined with the new voter suppression laws, the new gerrymandered districts, the Republicans will win the House.
TRUMP: So what? Then I get Matt Gaetz's tiny, teeny little office with the crummy used furniture in the Longwhatsit Building? That's the big prize? Will it be solitary confinement, too? And I'm what? I get to go to freshman orientation? How about diversity training? The lowest of the lowest of the low. And it gets worse. That weasel McCarthy is my boss. So, I do all the work to make him the king of the hill and I get to be his peon.
BANNON: Now, here's the beauty of the plan, here's the genius part. You take Matt Gaetz's seat, you get elected, you elect a Republican House, and who do you think becomes Speaker of the House? That would not be Kevin McCarthy. That would be you. Speaker Trump.
TRUMP: I'm Nancy Pelosi?
BANNON: You can keep your pronouns. You're Mr. Speaker. You sit behind Biden at his State of the Union Address and rip up his speech. You stand up in the Cabinet Room and point your finger at him. You control the committees. You control the committee assignments. You control who gets to go on a foreign trip from the Congress. You get to stomp on every single Biden proposal and grind it into the dirt. You're the dictator. You get to investigate Hunter Biden. You get to investigate Obama and Obamagate. You get to investigate crooked Hillary. You get to investigate the FBI, the CIA, the whole Deep State. You get to investigate everyone and every member of their family.
TRUMP: Who else?
BANNON: You get to investigate Merrick Garland. You get to investigate those bogus put-up investigations of you and all those who helped you.
TRUMP: And they stop? I see where you're going, Stevie old boy. And you're in the clear, too. Blue skies, nothing but blue skies.
BANNON: And Biden is destroyed.
TRUMP: You're getting warm.
BANNON: And Biden is impeached.
TRUMP: Speaker of the House still seems a little small.
BANNON: And then you run for president. And you win. Not Speaker Trump. President Trump.
TRUMP: Here's the fly in the ointment.
BANNON: The money? I thought Don, Jr. was working that out with the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund.
TRUMP: They owe. Never saw the light of day so long as I was there.
BANNON: The Khashoggi report.
TRUMP: If you're president, they let you do it. Cash and carry. If you're a member of the Congress, there are rules. You couldn't make the Secret Service pay you to stay in your hotel.
BANNON: There hasn't been an ex-president who's been a member of the House since John Quincy Adams. It's a whole new situation.
TRUMP: He didn't own hotels. Did anyone pay John Quincy Adams to join his golf club? But you've given me an idea.
BANNON: What's that?
TRUMP: Speaker of the House, way too much work. Having a little office in Longworth, that's too much work. But if I'm in the House, I'm the king. Right now, I don't have Twitter. I'm king now, but I'm in exile. A lot of inconveniences. If I'm in the House, I don't have to show up to be the true king in this government that's a farce. Let Kevin McCarthy be the Speaker. He started out as a counterman at a deli and he'll be my counterman at the deli. Whenever he doesn't do whatever I tell him to do, whatever I tell any of them to do, they're going to do it. This is representative government, and I'm the government. And I don't say that. I say I was elected president, they stole, and I'm righting the wrong, but from within government so I can help the people who love me. I never have to be in Washington. I shouldn't be in Washington. Go to Washington as a congressman? Never. I'm in the Congress, I run the Congress, I run the government, I run the president. Nothing gets done without my approval. Everyone has to come to me. McConnell, come on your knees. And I will never leave Mar a Lago.
BANNON: Did Louis the Fourteenth ever leave Versailles? L'etat, c'est moi.
BANNON: It means "me." The state, it's me, and that's you. Tomorrow you put a release that you're running the Congress. I'll write it for you. The Republican congressmen will kill each other to resign to give you their seat so you can cut them into some deal with the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund. The entire Florida delegation will resign offering their seats. You'll have your pick.
TRUMP: So Gaetz stays?
BANNON: Gaetz can do whatever he wants so long as it's twisting in the wind. Ron De Santis will declare a special election for the vacant seat the day it's vacated. It could be tomorrow. And I haven't mentioned the real, true beauty part of this whole idea when you get your hands on the House after the Republicans are in the majority.
TRUMP: More beautiful than me controlling the government from my golden throne at Mar a Lago?
BANNON: It's the power of the purse. Controlling all the money. The president doesn't control the money. Every dollar that's spent has to begin in the House. As far as money is concerned, controlling the House is the whole game. Yes, you could be president again. But I'm not sure you'd want to be. Once you're in the Congress, you can run the show, control the money, and you can be there forever without ever having to move. When Louis the Fourteenth said he was the state, it was wherever he was for forever. When you talk, everyone has to listen, report it, they have to put you on TV, if you want to be on TV. But you're not kicked out. You're the king that can't be replaced. A president is a temporary king. He rents his residence. You don't have to move. You own l'etat wherever you're sitting. You are l'etat. Louie was France, and you're America first, last and always. Forget about four more years. How about forever? And only do the fun parts.
TRUMP: But what about the rules about assets and financial disclosures?
BANNON: So, here's another beauty part. Emoluments for a president is in the Constitution. The rest is just rules. They're set by the House. And rules are meant to be changed. They can be changed any day a majority wants them to be changed. And when you're in the Congress, they'll be changed. Because you'll change them. Presidents will come and go. Everything will come and go, but you. Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose.
TRUMP: Stay for dinner. Have the steak, well done. And chocolate ice cream.
BANNON: I'd prefer vanilla.
TRUMP: Make that two scoops of chocolate.
BANNON: God bless you, Mr. Congressman.
Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has published three books of a projected five-volume political life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man, Wrestling With His Angel and All the Powers of Earth. His play This Town, about a scandalous White House dog, was produced in 1995 by LA TheatreWorks. This is the seventh in his "Trump Cycle" series of one-act plays published in The National Memo, including The Pardon, Epstein's Ghost, Ivanka's Choice, Sunset Boulevard,
The Exclusive, and The Role Model.
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