Trump memoir ghostwriter predicts US leader will resign

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Washington — The ghostwriter who penned Donald Trump’s 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal” thinks the US president will throw in the towel before the end of his term.

Writer Tony Schwartz tweeted that “Trump is going to resign” before investigators probing alleged ties between the Republican’s campaign team and Russia “leave him no choice”.

“The circle is closing at blinding speed,” the author tweeted. “Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and congress leave him no choice.”

“Trump’s presidency is effectively over,” he said in a follow-up tweet. “Would be amazed if he survives till end of the year. More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner.”

While writing Trump’s bestselling breakthrough memoir, Schwartz spent 18 months with the billionaire tycoon.

He spoke out last year against the real estate mogul during the presidential campaign, telling The New Yorker magazine that he put “lipstick on a pig”.

“I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.”

Meanwhile, Trump found himself in the eye of a political storm Wednesday after his stunning remarks on the unrest in Charlottesville, which sparked unease within his own camp and could mark a turning point in his already chaotic presidency.

His assessment that there was “blame on both sides” for the deadly melee sparked a rare comment on current affairs from his two Republican predecessors, George Bush and George W. Bush, who called on Americans to “reject racial bigotry . . . in all its forms.”

Without naming the 45th president, the 41st and 43rd leaders of the United States cited Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, in reminding Americans that all citizens are “created equal.”

The violent fracas in the Virginia college town began Saturday when a rally by white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue turned violent, as they clashed with counter-protesters.

It ended in tragedy when a 20-year-old suspected Nazi sympathiser, James Fields, plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, leaving one woman dead and 19 others injured.

Trump’s defiant statements on Tuesday, delivered in a caustic way at Trump Tower and immediately hailed by a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan for their “courage,” left many lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, speechless. The Republican billionaire seemed to have crossed a red line with his statements, just over 200 days into his presidency.

Many observers were left with the impression that the unscripted Trump of Tuesday was the real Trump — rather than the man who delivered a more measured statement from the White House on Monday in which he firmly denounced “racist violence.”

In a clear sign of embarrassment, Republican lawmakers did not line up to defend the real estate mogul-turned-president, as they have repeatedly done since he took office in January. Those who did speak criticised him. “In Charlottesville, the blame lays squarely on the KKK and white supremacists,” the leader of the Republican National Committee, Ronna Romney McDaniel, told ABC News.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a regular Trump critic, said many Republicans would “fight back against the idea that the party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world.”

“He has to fix this and Republicans have to speak out. Plain and simple,” Ohio governor John Kasich, who battled Trump for the Republican presidential nomination last year, told NBC’s Today show.

David Axelrod, a former top aide to Barack Obama, said: “Why are we surprised that a @POTUS, who began his campaign with appeals to bigotry, would give comfort to bigots?”

Trump’s remarks — made at an impromptu press conference that was expected to focus on infrastructure reforms — put the white supremacists and counter-demonstrators on equal moral ground. “I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said, as his new chief of staff, former Marine General John Kelly, stood rigidly near him and looked uncomfortable. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,” Trump continued. “What about the alt-left that came charging . . . at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? (. . .) There are two sides to a story.”

He also said there were “very fine people, on both sides.”

His remarks had led several top business executives to resign from White House advisory panels. On Wednesday, Trump simply dissolved the forums.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” he tweeted.

Trump had suffered a first wave of indignation immediately after Saturday’s events when critics said his comments were too vague and did not go far enough to denounce neo-Nazis and KKK members at the Charlottesville rally.

Obama, his predecessor, had reacted by tweeting a quote from Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.”

l Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, has become the latest high-profile figure in the administration whose role has come to an abrupt end.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckerby Sanders confirmed that Bannon would no longer be showing up to work.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Sanders said yesterday. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”

The New York Times earlier reported what it termed as an apparent dismissal, citing sources.

The development comes as the White House reels from the fallout over Trump’s response to a violent white supremacist rally.

Bannon’s critics label him a white supremacist.

The former head of far-right outlet Breitbart News is described as being the nucleus of one of several competing power centres in what has been a chaotic White House. — Al Jazeera.

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