The Donald is furious and he has every right to be. Apparently the former frat boy and accused sexual predator, US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (who was nominated by Trump), has not been as loyal as he should have been. By standing by Kavanaugh during his nomination hearings, it follows that the Justice would help Donald steal the election (at least in Trump’s mind). But disloyalty is now an official legacy of the Trump presidency and Kavanaugh has apparently joined the ranks of the undeserving. Cue the crocodile tears.
According to Michael Wolff in his new book “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency”, president number 45 ranted and raved to the author about how he went out on a limb for Kavanaugh, who was accusedof sexual misconduct and assault by four women. In excerptsof the book released by Axios, Trump is quoted as having said, “Practically every senator called me ... and said, ‘Cut him loose, sir, cut him loose. He’s killing us, Kavanaugh.’ ... I said, ‘I can’t do that....I had plenty of time to pick somebody else,” Trump continued. “I went through that thing and fought like hell for Kavanaugh — and I saved his life, and I saved his career. At great expense to myself ... okay? I fought for that guy and kept him.”
“I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” According to former FBI Director James Comey, those were the words spoken to him by the now disgraced ex-president when Trump asked Comey to drop an inquiry into former national security advisor Michael Flynn. And according to Wolffe, Trump expected the same from Kavanaugh. He had every reason to: it was that same backstabbing Kavanaugh that helped lay the stage for what was supposed to be a guaranteed win.
In October of 2020, the new Supreme Court judge (concurring with other conservative justices) appeared to be setting the stage to give judicial authority to the conspiracy theory that mail-in voting would amount to fraud. Justice Kavanaugh, quoting NYU law professor Richard Plides in his concurring opinion in the October 2020 Supreme Court case “Democractic National Committee v. Wisconsin State Legislature”, wrote: “Late-arriving ballots open up one of the greatest risks of what might, in our era of hyperpolarized political parties and existential politics, destabilize the election result. If the apparent winner the morning after the election ends up losing due to late-arriving ballots, charges of a rigged election could explode.” Picking his quotes carefully, Kavanaugh took this excerpt from a law review article in order to help throw out a federal district court in Wisconsin’s decision to extend a six-day extension of acceptance of mail-in ballots because of the pandemic. Notably, this case was decided a month before the presidential election; it’s no wonder Trump’s hopes were up.
For lawyers and psychologists, however, Kavanaugh’s abandonment of Trump comes as no surprise — shady characters are often unreliable when you need them most. In a dramatic twist that highlights the hubris of the protagonist, we see that the Donald set himself up for this final act of betrayal.
Megalomaniacal tyrants are prone to inspire disloyalty because their need for supplication and attention makes them susceptible to trickery of the highest order. To put it simply, you tell a narcissist what they want to hear, fawn over them and feign loyalty until you get what you want. Then, you abandon ship (especially if it is already sinking). It’s a time-honored tradition employed with grand strategy by some of history’s most notorious sycophants, including Kavanaugh. Trump got his just deserts.
The moral of the story for future wannabe tyrants? Don’t keep sycophants for friends, even if they have an allegedly filthy past. You may think you can blackmail them into submission, you may think they owe you and you own them — but if the world already knows of the accusations against them and they still manage to rise to power, they are probably trickier than they seem. Indeed, they are probably even trickier than you.