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    833: Come Retribution

    enJune 09, 2024

    Podcast Summary

    • Trump's 2024 campaign messageTrump's 2024 campaign gained momentum with a revengeful message against political opponents, focusing on government overreach and perceived misconduct.

      Donald Trump's 2024 presidential campaign had a rocky start but gained momentum with a dark and revengeful speech at the CPAC conference in March 2023. Trump's announcement speech at Mar-a-Lago was lackluster and poorly attended. However, his tone changed in the "come retribution" speech, where he positioned himself as a warrior seeking revenge against his political opponents. This message resonated with his supporters, and the first campaign rally was held in Waco, Texas, symbolizing the government's alleged overreach against Trump and his supporters. Trump's speeches since have focused on the government being out of control and out to get his supporters, and he has accused the Biden administration of prosecutorial misconduct. This new campaign message is a departure from his previous campaigns and his time in the White House.

    • Trump's desire for retributionIf Trump regains the presidency, he may use government agencies to pursue investigations and prosecutions against his critics, departing from traditional presidential norms.

      If Donald Trump regains the presidency, he has indicated a strong desire for retribution against his perceived enemies. This retribution could potentially involve the use of government agencies like the Department of Justice to pursue investigations and prosecutions of individuals who have criticized or opposed him. Trump's allies are also calling for the same action against Democrats. The extent to which Trump would follow through on these threats is uncertain, but it represents a significant departure from traditional presidential norms and could have significant consequences for those targeted.

    • Trump's enemies retributionTrump delegated dirty work to staff, asking them to publicly criticize his enemies, and Grisham complied with a request to criticize John Kelly.

      Stephanie Grisham, a former White House staffer for Donald Trump, shares her experiences and regrets about her time working for him. Grisham, who was once tasked with helping the Trumps take retribution against their enemies, became a critic after the January 6th Capitol attack. She testified for the January 6th committee, spoke out against Trump publicly, and wrote a tell-all book. Trump viewed her actions as a betrayal, and Grisham expected to be cast out as a traitor. During her time with the Trumps, she witnessed critical moments, including election night in 2020. She admits to having harshly criticized Trump's opponents but felt good when Trump praised her for it. Trump would often leave the dirty work to his staff, giving them vague directions to attack his enemies. One of the few specific directions Trump gave Grisham was to publicly criticize John Kelly after he criticized Trump and the press. Grisham found this request disturbing but complied.

    • Trump's EnemiesTrump and his supporters are known for their ruthless attitude towards enemies, with Trump reportedly asking provocative questions and seeking retaliation, while supporters are fiercely loyal and quick to retaliate, creating a culture of fear and vengefulness.

      During his presidency, Donald Trump reportedly admired and appreciated those who were ruthless towards his enemies, and was known to ask provocative questions in the presence of his advisors. Stephanie Grisham, a former White House press secretary, shared an instance where Trump asked her to identify the biggest killer between himself and another world leader. Melania Trump, too, has shown a willingness to use her power and resources to go after her perceived enemies, as evidenced by her attempt to sue a former advisor for violating a nondisclosure agreement. Trump's supporters are also known to be fiercely loyal and quick to retaliate against perceived enemies, creating a culture of fear and vengefulness. Fred Wellman, a former executive director of the Lincoln Project, shared an experience of feeling threatened by a pickup truck idling outside his house late at night, fearing it was a Trump supporter seeking retribution. This culture of vengefulness and intimidation may continue to be a concern if Trump were to be re-elected.

    • Threats against political opponentsPolitical opponents of Trump faced intense backlash, threats, and doxing, causing fear and intimidation, but some refused to be silenced and continued their work against him.

      The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee, faced intense backlash from Trump supporters, leading to threats and even doxing. Fred Wellman, a founder, shared his personal experiences, including receiving threatening messages and having his family's information posted online. After a founder's admission of sending inappropriate messages to young men, the threats escalated, causing Fred to feel unsafe and purchase a gun for protection. Despite the danger, Fred refused to be intimidated and continued his work against Trump. However, he and his colleague Stephanie feared the consequences of a second Trump term, including potential audits or even charges of treason. The threats were not just against them but also against anyone perceived as an enemy of Trump. The goal was to make them feel scared and intimidated, but Fred remained resilient, knowing that a man with nothing to lose could be the most dangerous.

    • Political retribution fearFear of political retribution under a Trump presidency has led some individuals to consider leaving the country, and stories of those making such plans and facing consequences for reporting concerns highlight the impact of political divisions on American society

      Fear of political retribution under a potential Trump presidency has led some individuals to consider leaving the country. Fred and Stephanie, two people mentioned in the discussion, have made plans to establish a new life abroad due to concerns about their safety and financial security. Another individual, Alexander Vindman, faced consequences for reporting concerns about the president's actions, leading him to leave the military and start a new life. These stories illustrate the far-reaching impact of political divisions and the fear of retribution in American society.

    • Election uncertainty and safety concernsThe election results and potential political retribution have led some individuals to delay making significant purchases due to concerns about their safety and future plans. Different perspectives and experiences shape reactions to the current situation, with some focusing on enjoying life and others prioritizing safety.

      The uncertainty surrounding the election results and potential political retribution has led some individuals to delay making significant purchases, such as furniture and window treatments, due to concerns about their safety and future plans. This is exemplified by the Vindman family, whose differing temperaments and experiences have shaped their perspectives on the situation. Alex, an optimistic and fun-loving military officer, believes that things will work out and is focused on enjoying life with his family, while Rachel, a more cautious and safety-conscious individual, is more concerned about the potential dangers they may face. Their experiences, including overseas postings and personal losses, have shaped their reactions to the current situation. Despite the challenges they have faced, including being doxxed and threatened, they have remained pragmatic and focused on assessing risks and options. Trump's continued rhetoric about enemies and past events, such as the impeachment hearings and the Zelensky phone call, serves as a reminder of the ongoing tension and uncertainty.

    • Trump supporters prioritiesEconomic issues such as inflation, gas prices, and housing costs are the top priorities for many Trump supporters, not the desire for retribution.

      While some individuals, like the Vindmanns, fear potential retribution from Donald Trump or his supporters if he is re-elected, this desire for revenge does not seem to be a major concern for all Trump supporters. During a Trump rally, Zoey Chase found that out of about two dozen people she spoke with, none mentioned retribution as a top priority if Trump returns to office. Instead, they focused on economic issues such as lower inflation, gas prices, and housing costs. This suggests that while the idea of retribution may resonate with some Trump supporters, it is not the primary motivation for all of them.

    • Politicization of DOJInterviewees expressed concern over DOJ's politicization and use of powers against political opponents, preferring a non-partisan justice department, and some Trump supporters suggested pardons instead of prosecutions.

      Many people interviewed in a recent study expressed concern about the politicization of the Department of Justice and the use of its powers to target political opponents. They prefer a non-partisan justice department and are against the idea of a president using the government to punish enemies. Some Trump supporters even suggested pardoning past convictions instead of prosecutions. Despite Trump's calls for retribution, it seems that this motivation isn't driving voters as much as it is for Trump himself. However, if he manages to secure the presidency, his actions would be unchecked. The people behind today's episode include Chris Benderev, Theo Benin, Sean Cole, Michael Kamatay, Seth Lin, Catherine Raimondo, Nadia Raymond, Sofia Riddle, Ryan Rummery, Alyssa Ship, Lily Sullivan, Christopher Sutalla, Marissa Robertson Textor, Matt Tierney, and Diane Wu. Our managing editor is Sara Abdiraman, senior editor is David Kestenbaum, and executive editor is Emmanuel Barry. Special thanks to Mark Zaid, Eugene and Cindy Vindman, Jennifer Jacobson, Jennifer Weaver, James Shirk, Ellen Whitman, Steven Bradbury, Kelefa Sanneh, Ryan Goderski, Sarah Isker, and Washington Post reporter Isaac Arnsdorf. You can listen to over 800 episodes of This American Life for free on their website.

    • Impact of influential figuresReflecting on Eric Glass's podcast, the impact of influential figures, such as Michael Barbaro and President Xi of China, in shaping public opinion and geopolitical landscapes calls for critical thinking and active engagement with current events.

      Eric Glass, in his podcast, frequently engages in thought-provoking discussions with his listeners, often asking them to consider deep questions. In this particular episode, he posed a question about who is a bigger "killer" between Michael Barbaro, the host of the Daily podcast, and President Xi of China. This question, while seemingly simple, invites listeners to reflect on the complex geopolitical landscape and the impact of influential figures in media and politics. It highlights the importance of critical thinking and active engagement with current events.

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