In his four years as president, Donald Trump’s average approval rating was 41 percent, the lowest of any of the 13 presidents since World War II, according to Gallup. Despite the fact that a majority of Americans reject Trump’s leadership and many of his policies, the president retains a seemingly immovable core of support. This, despite Trump making more than 20,000 false and misleading statements since taking office in January 2017, congressional impeachment investigation that confirmed evidence of constitutional violations, numerous corruption charges and 26 women who’ve made allegations of sexual misconduct.
Perhaps the most damning of all charges against the president comes from a recent Columbia University study which found that upwards of 130,000 coronavirus deaths, of the 230,000 Americans who have died, were “avoidable” if President Trump and his administration had acted sooner and implemented widespread public health precautions.
As the president faces the voters he continues to disparage and blame the media for both his own and the nation’s problems, labeling stories he objects to as “fake news,” while calling journalists “enemies of the people.” Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Steven Hassan, a cult survivor, mental health professional and director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center. Author of “The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control,” Hassan assesses the threat of violence carried out by President Trump’s fanatical supporters if he should lose the Nov. 3 election.
STEVEN HASSAN: The bottom line is, they’ve been groomed to believe that if Trump doesn’t win, it’s because of the cheating on the other side. And so they’re already of that belief. In other words, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy: “Oh yeah, they’ve rigged it, etc.” And unfortunately, I’d been listening to Trump incite violence for years. I want to remind people of his statement way back years ago, where he said, “I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and my followers would still follow me.” For any mental health professional — especially when somebody talks about shooting somebody and wanting people to blindly follow them — that shows a very sick mind.
SCOTT HARRIS: But let’s look at some of the violence that has transpired. Some of it encouraged by Donald Trump himself. Are there certain groups out there — militia groups, vigilantes, the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, folks like that — who will be encouraged to commit violence, targeting Democrats or anybody they see as an opponent of Donald Trump. Is that something that you think will play out or is there some kind of breaking system that will mitigate that kind of disaster for the country?
STEVEN HASSAN: I honestly don’t know. We’re in uncharted territories. But experts that I’ve spoken with fear actual violence and all those assault rifles that all of us in the United States are like, why do people need assault rifles? They’re not for hunting deer. And then if you listen to Alex Jones and his Info Wars, he’s been inciting civil war for a really long time. So I worry. But then I go back to there are a lot more fine patriots who think that’s wrong, and I’m hoping that they’re going to be reaching out to whoever they know who may have arms or whatever. And just say, you know, we’re all Americans and violence is not the answer.
SCOTT HARRIS: Steve, I wanted to get your view into the period of time between the election and the inauguration of a new president. If Donald Trump should lose this election, what are some of your big concerns about the levers of power that Donald Trump will still control during this couple-of-month period?
STEVEN HASSAN: Again, I don’t want to be negative and depress people, but it seems like he would appoint more federal judges. It seems like he will do more deals that are going to benefit billionaire friends of his at the expense of the public. You know, I wrote in the Cult of Trump about a fourth-generation PSYOPs program that’s aimed at convincing people not to trust institutions or experts or science. And I’m afraid that that is what’s been happening. I mean, if you think about how could anyone appoint someone to be head of the EPA who doesn’t believe in the EPA? Or someone to be head of education who doesn’t believe in public education? So the notion of fourth-generation warfare being waged on the American people for four years suggests that in his remaining months, he’s going to do more of this to destabilize the U.S. and to make people so desperate that there may be violence and perhaps a desperate effort to declare martial law so he stays in power.
So again, I come back to, it’s going to take everybody really being tuned in to their conscience, to their common sense, to their sense of patriotism, to our sense of love and spirituality to rise up in a nonviolent way and reach out to people of all kinds and all political parties. And I’m especially heartened by Republicans who’ve said I can’t support Trump with a number of former cult member friends of mine. We’re doing a hashtag movement called #IGotOut in the vein of the #MeToo movement — #IGotOut to try to open a large pathway for Trump supporters, QAnon believers to exit that totalistic, authoritarian belief system and involvement and realize that they got conned. They were deceived and mind-controlled and that there’s life after cults.