Books

Do Any of These Never Trumpers Have the Power to Persuade?

Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security official in the Trump administration and the author of the new book BLOWBACK: A Warning to Save Democracy From the Next Trump (Atria, 335 pp., $30), made his dramatic entrance in 2018 with an anonymous essay for The New York Timesentitled “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” In it, he heralded the “unsung heroes” who were “working diligently from within” to impede Trump’s “worst inclinations.” The following year, having resigned from the D.H.S., Taylor published “A Warning,” also under the moniker “Anonymous.” Finally, in 2020, Taylor criticized Trump under his own name, endorsed Joe Biden and identified himself as “Anonymous.”

Taylor now provides a more detailed accounting of the chaos inside the White House. Some of his allegations — that the Trump aide Stephen Miller wanted to blow up migrants with a predator drone; that the former White House chief of staff John Kelly described the president as a “very, very evil man” in response to Trump’s sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka — have made headlines and prompted some denials.

The reference to “the next Trump” in the subtitle is already moot (we’re still dealing with the original one), but “Blowbackis bedeviled by a bigger problem: The more we learn of the outrageous behavior behind closed doors, the more enraging it is that Taylor — and his allies among the “axis of adults” — failed to speak out sooner. In 2018, after a particularly deranged set of phone calls about the so-called migrant caravan, Taylor told Kelly that things were getting really messed up. I wanted to shake him. Yes, Miles, it was getting pretty messed up.

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