Trump's Hour On CNN Was A Profile In Cowardice

Trump's Hour On CNN Was A Profile In Cowardice

Former President Donald Trump

He said he would pardon the January 6 felons “if I get in.” Of course, he would. They’re his people, the mob of his supporters that attacked the Capitol and assaulted police officers, putting more than 140 of them in the hospital. They’re cowards, just like he is. Afraid to take a stand by themselves, they took the cowards’ route: they did it in a mob, where they thought they could disappear in the chaos and not be held accountable.

But they weren’t invisible. The crimes they committed were caught on camera, the beatings of police officers they surrounded with the mob and gassed with bear-spray, the $3 million in damage they did to the Capitol building, the threats they made against Vice President Pence. So, they were caught, and they were prosecuted, and many were sent to jail, where some of them remain today.

They had “love in their hearts,” and yet they are being “treated very badly,” Donald Trump told the largely Republican crowd at the CNN town hall held last night in New Hampshire. Not a word about what they did on January 6, 2021 at his behest. Not a word about the fact that they are given tablet computers at the jail in Washington D.C. where many of them are being held awaiting trial. Not a word about the injuries they inflicted on police officers and others.

They’re cowards, like he is, and they are his people, so he told the audience on Wednesday night that he would stand by the insurrectionists and pardon them, and the audience applauded him, because they are just like him. They identify with cowards and bullies like Donald Trump. They gave him their votes in two elections, and they are ready to do it again.

They’re Trump’s kind of people, and he’s their kind of “leader,” the kind that inflames a crowd and then walks away. Where did he go? To his dining room in the White House to watch his crowd of supporters attack the Capitol on TV and eat hamburgers and throw Cokes at the wall. He hasn’t taken responsibility for what his crowd of supporters did, because cowards don’t take responsibility for their actions. They run away and hide.

That’s what he did the day he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll in a Bergdorf’s dressing room, an act for which he was found liable on Tuesday by a Manhattan jury. He slammed her up against a wall of the dressing room and he groped her and he ripped off her underwear and he grabbed her genitals and he inserted, or attempted to insert, his penis in her vagina. And then like the coward and sexual abuser that he is, he walked away. Later, from a distance – never to her face – he defamed her by calling her a liar and a fantasist.

But he didn’t appear in court to look her in the eye and say it in person. No, he had walked away before, and he did it again. He didn’t want to face cross-examination, so he walked away and he stayed away, and last night in New Hampshire, he did it again. He defamed E. Jean Carroll, and he riled up the crowd and they rewarded him with laughter and cheers, and then he walked away. It’s what cowards do.

He did it with Ukraine last night. Having called Vladimir Putin a genius for the way he invaded Ukraine, he managed to walk away from Putin and Ukraine at once, refusing to say who he wanted to win the war, and refusing to support continuing to arm Ukraine against Russia’s aggression. And he did it with abortion, claiming credit for appointing the justices who cemented the majority that overturned Roe v Wade, but refusing to say if he would sign a federal ban on abortion. It’s another thing cowards do – they take both sides of an issue, thus taking no side at all.

The way he treats women was right there on the Access Hollywood tape for all to see. He said he just walks right up and kisses them without asking permission, he grabs them “by the pussy.” What he left out of his bragging in that interview was what happens next. He walks away. He grabbed the woman on the plane by her genitals, he groped her breasts, and when the fasten your seat belt light went off upon landing, he walked away.

He did it in 2016 when he learned that his sexual indiscretions with a Playboy playmate and an adult film star would be revealed. He didn’t stand up and say, okay, I made a mistake. I apologize to my family and to the women and I take responsibility for my actions. No, he took the coward’s way out. He wrote checks and covered it up, and when eventually the truth came out, he lied about it.

When in 2017, Trump instituted a policy on the border that separated hundreds of children, some of them toddlers and infants, from their parents, he walked away from it, denying he had anything to do with the policy. Last night, when asked if he would do the same thing again, he said yes, he would, because “we have to save our country.” From what? From little children who were taken across the border by their parents fleeing gang violence, political unrest, and poverty?

Well, sure he would do it again, because that’s what cowards do. They bully the powerless, they build walls to keep out “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and then they punish them and bully them for having the temerity to ask for asylum in the wealthiest country on earth. It took a lot of courage for them to travel thousands of miles through jungles and across deserts, avoiding being preyed on by bandits and using their life savings to pay coyotes to guide them. Trump would deny them succor and shelter because they’re not his people. They won’t laugh at his sick jokes and cheer on his promises to pardon felons. They’re not cowards like he is.

We’re going to be confronted by Trump and his bullying and braggadocio and preening and lies night after night in the coming year and a half. We need a way to put Trump and his behavior in perspective. With Trump, it’s all of a piece – inciting a crowd to riot and then walking away; assaulting a woman and then walking away; ripping innocent children from the arms of their parents and then walking away. We need to put a label on who he is and what he does, and that label is coward.

Donald Trump is what cowardice looks like. Remember it. Use the word. Share it with others. Courage isn’t complicated. Do what would make your mother proud of you. Vote.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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