Editor’s Note: Below are the video and transcript to remarks given by Monica Crowley at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2017 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 16th-19th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
Monica Crowley from DHFC on Vimeo.
At lunch today, we had the great fortune to hear from Victor Davis Hanson who was talking about those of us who have been repeatedly judged for our support of Donald Trump by the self-righteous, self-described anti-Trump superiors, and it called to mind something that happened to me last July. I had an exchange with a Hollywood heavyweight and no, it was not Harvey Weinstein. That would have been an exchange of a different kind, and this Hollywood heavyweight approached me, and I got the whole condescending treatment about Donald Trump. I got the condescending tap on the arm. I got the look, like, feeling sorry for me that I was a Trump supporter, and he looked at me and he said, “Monica, you’re a sweet girl and you’re so smart. You can’t possibly be for Donald Trump,” and I realized in that second that I had a decision to make. Was I going to go through the usual excuses, like, well, you know, I know, but I still…? I decided in that split second to own it, and I leaned into this guy and I said, “Are you kidding me? I freaking love Donald Trump,” and to my great surprise, it completely disarmed him, and he stood back. He wasn’t expecting it. I said, “Are you kidding me, I freaking love him, and if I had 100 votes, I’d spend all 100 votes on Donald Trump,” and he was immediately taken aback, and he said, “Oh, no, no, no. No, don’t get me wrong. I hate her. I just don’t know if I can vote for him,” and it completely wrecked his entire line of argument. It worked like a charm.
So, for those of us who are experiencing this incredibly dangerous moment in American History, and that is all of us because we are so far beyond normal politics now, that none of us really have a true grasp of what’s happening, and all of us in this room have a better grasp than most people as to what’s really going on, but I would say, I’d tell that story as an example of the strength we’re going to need, all of us in this room, every American going forward.
It actually reminds me a little bit of the Watergate frenzy, and as many of you know, I worked for former President Nixon during the last years of his life, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what President Nixon’s advice to the current President might be and how we can all arm ourselves with Nixon’s experience, so we don’t allow it to happen again, but first I want to start with a question. Does the swamp always win? It’s a question I’ve given a lot of thought to because in the past, we’ve never really had to pose that question, right? Because yes, of course, the swamp always won, but the way we answer that question now, because it’s an open question for the first time in a long time, is going to determine the future of this exceptional nation. Why has the swamp – and remember what the swamp is. The swamp is the ruling class and it’s comprised of the elites on all sides of the political spectrum. Why has it always dominated? We sort of take it for granted. Why has it always dominated despite repeated attempts by noble patriots over many years to try to chip away at its monstrous power?
The short answer is that the swamp controls all the levers of power in this country, and they have the capability and the will to destroy anyone and anything that threatens its grip. The swamp is the perfect embodiment of Lord Acton’s warning that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are so many other adages that we can apply to this epic cesspool of money and power and status and influence all contributing to the supreme human and institutional corruption that we see in Washington, D.C. It’s everywhere and it’s so daunting. It is a tsunami that comes and crushes anybody in its path. It’s elected officials on both sides. It’s the establishment on both sides. Their staffs, the media, federal bureaucracies, special interests, lobbyists, even some in the deep state who are supposed to only be focused on America’s external threats, and even some in law and law enforcement who are only supposed to be interested in applying equal justice under the law. They’ve all become corrupted, and this ruling class has dined out on this rotten status quo for a hell of a long time until now.
Because finally, finally this country has elected someone not of, by, and for the swamp, someone who owes them nothing and does not fear them: Donald J. Trump. I freaking love Donald Trump. The reason the swamp hates him, of course, is manifold. He is proven to be a potent crusher of political correctness and polite society, the way things are supposed to be said, i.e. not on Twitter, and a crusher of that elite vanguard also known as the swamp. He came in and he promised to smash their corrupt existing order, to overturn the money changers’ tables. Right? To make representative government representative again and to make – to have them earn the consent of the governed, which is what the Founders had in mind when they created this exceptional nation, and in so doing, he promised to restore respect for the Constitution, to restore government back to its proper place, and to restore mighty American economic growth, to, yeah, make America great again. A simple concept, how refreshing after years of being dominated and ruled by the swamp.
Of course, most of these things, if not all of them, scare the living hell out of the ruling class. Having failed to destroy their nemesis during the campaign, they have now redoubled their efforts to kill his presidency. This is an effort, and I know this from personal experience, this is an effort that is going to be ongoing until the end of his natural presidential term or until they get him. Make no mistake, and I know everybody in this room understands this very clearly, the ruling class doesn’t just want to destroy his presidency or even just remove him from office. They want him in prison. Not the local clink, Federal prison, hence the appointment of this independent counsel in this wide-ranging and open‑ended investigation. They want to void his lawful election and they want to ruin him and his family and his top advisors and his supporters and all of his voters. Everyone on Team Trump, which is everyone in this room from the President on down, has got to be discredited and yes, destroyed. Both sides know that this is an existential fight, existential fight.
It is true that this President is an imperfect warrior, but he is the kind of disrupter that we have been waiting for, the kind of disrupter that we have been longing for, but while disrupters in the private sector are celebrated, right? Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Uber. How many of us took an Uber here tonight? They’re celebrated in the private sector but disrupters in governments are condemned and swept away. Why? Because in government, there is not profit motive. The only motive in government is to get re-elected to a mass power and keep it, to sustain and grow its influence, to spread its reach. Government is supposed to serve the people but instead, it serves only itself and that’s why anyone who comes along like Donald Trump promising to restore the country to the vision the Founders intended has got to be crushed. The swamp will not be threatened.
In fact, it reminds me of Glen Close’s character in Fatal Attraction where she says, “I won’t be ignored.“ That’s the swamp and it’s just as deadly as Alex Cross in Fatal Attraction. Their insatiable desire for evermore power and control has warped the rule of law, damaged our institutions, eroded confidence in our democratic and free market systems and ripped the most extraordinary governing document in the history of the world, the U.S. Constitution to shreds. Finally, we have all reached the boiling point. We’ve reached it last year and we’ve decided to unite against this self-serving duplicitousness of this ruling class.
You know, for years, the most-significant and dangerous splits in the United States, and frankly across the West, has been between the elites and the rest of us, and the rest of us have been left to navigate the consequences of the decisions of the elites from unrestricted immigration to high taxes, while those elites use their means to levitate themselves above those decisions and those consequences. Over the years, many people have tried to take a stab at this beast, all noble efforts but they’ve all failed because they’ve all eventually been pulled under by the dark, dark seductions of the swamp until last year, when the most unlikely swamp slayer in the universe emerged on the scene and did the unimaginable.
I remember a few weeks after Donald Trump came down the escalator in Trump Tower. He made that now famous infamous crack about Senator John McCain. Remember? He said, “Well, I don’t think he’s a war hero because he was captured, and I like people that weren’t captured, okay?“ Holy Hell broke loose. We all remember this. A day or two later, I was sitting with the owner of a major political publication, and he was ripping Trump’s comments as everybody else was. He predicted the end of Trump’s candidacy like that. He said, “Well, he had an interesting few weeks, but you know, Monica, it’s all over for him. He’s done.“ And I gave him a long look and I said, “What do you mean?“ And he said, “Well, you know, you can’t attack the military,” and I looked at him and I said, “Ah, but Trump didn’t attack the military. He attacked John McCain,” and I said to him, “The one point you are missing here is that the beast hates John McCain more than they hate what Trump just said about him,” and I said, “Mark my words. His poll numbers are going up, not down,” and sure enough, they did, and they kept climbing and he kept winning despite making comments and moves that would have disqualified any other Republican candidate, and so, it was, that the man who never did this before pushed through a merciless 18‑month campaign.
First, he beat back 16 professional Republicans, some of whom had over $100 million dollars and then he has to fight a multi-front war on a different level. Think about it this way. Donald Trump had to fend off relentless and brutal attacks from the then President of the United States, the White House, Mrs. Clinton, the Clinton campaign, the Clinton machine, the far left, the Democrat establishment, the Republican establishment, Hollywood, the Academy and the media, whew, and yet, despite that unprecedented assault, he won that war too.
On election night, I was on Fox News and I was surrounded by people who had mocked and dismissed Donald Trump for the previous 18 months, including as recently as earlier that day, and I was on camera at 3:00 in the morning when the race was called for him and I’ll never forget, Bret Baier looked at me first because I was the first person 2 days after Donald Trump came down that escalator and told Bill O’Reilly, “Stop laughing, do not underestimate him. He’s going to pull the whole thing off.“ So, because I made that prediction so early, Bret Baier looked at me first and he said, “Monica, thoughts?” And I didn’t look at him. I looked at America and I said, “This is the most astonishing political event of our lifetimes.“ Maybe ever, maybe ever, but what we now know is at that moment, the swamp began its third and most-serious counterattack. Since January 20, the forces arrayed against Donald Trump include all of those I just mentioned plus the permanent federal bureaucracy, the deep state, the international community, and the so‑called, independent counsel. Ratcheting up the pressure on this President in ways we have never seen before, deeply dangerous ways that really imperil this great nation. That is not an overstatement. The ruling class has weaponized political opposition in truly lethal ways. Leaking state secrets, check. Spreading continuous lies, check. Torpedoing his agenda in Congress, check. Infecting the popular culture, check. Poisoning the minds of our youth, check. Undermining confidence in our common values and institutions, check. Overt campaigns questioning the President’s legitimacy and mental fitness, check. Open talk about removing the duly-elected President from office, check. Instigating violence by aligning with and supporting radical violent groups like Antifa, check. And by the way, that’s just George Soros and his minions on an average Wednesday.
This is what this President is up against. Donald Trump was strong enough to withstand all of these forces coming at him during the campaign. I hope and pray that he is strong enough to withstand what is coming at him as President because no President, not one, has had to contend with this kind of monolithic, brutal, relentless opposition, and we’re all well aware of the dishonest, brutal, relentless attacks on Richard Nixon, Ronald Regan, George W. Bush, what they faced is nothing compared to what Donald Trump is facing, and I know having worked with President Nixon, we’re going to get to him in a second.
This is an unprecedented moment and a very dangerous one. Even Jimmy Carter has noted the unprecedented nature of what this president is facing, and that brings us to a word of warning for this president, and for all of us. Since he came down the escalator, Trump has attracted some comparisons to Richard Nixon. As a lot of you know, I worked for President Nixon during the last years of his life and I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and it seems to me that the historical analogy is increasingly apt, and I’ll tell you why. Some of the parallels between Nixon and Trump are positive and they’re striking. You have the scrappy Republican fighter who outmaneuvers all of his competitors with a really savvy appeal to the forgotten great silent majority. That was Nixon’s phrase, including disaffected Democrats who became Nixon, then Reagan, then Trump Democrats, thereby creating a whole new popular movement. The political self-made man who bypasses the elites and enrages them by doing that. The iconoclast with the vision that matched the moment.
Other comparisons are a little less flattering. The man’s sensitive to attacks, real and perceived, burgeoning investigations, the appointment of a special counsel, top aides in the crosshairs, a braying media, impeachment chatter, and we know that Nixon and Trump are different men in different situations in different eras, of course, and any historical analogy only goes so far. The current Russia investigation is not Watergate. Watergate had provable crimes. Well, so far, there’s been zero evidence of any crime or any wrongdoing whatsoever on behalf of Donald Trump or anybody around him. On the Hillary Clinton Democratic National Committee side, however, there seems to be evidence of actual collusion with Russian interests, making Watergate look like a game of patty cake. Despite no evidence, at least so far, of wrongdoing, Nixon’s experience, I think, should still serve as a cautionary tale for his successor. Nixon’s enemies were legion, and so were Trump’s, and for largely the same reason.
I know many of you in this room will remember that when Richard Nixon was running in 1968 he ran on a very Trumpian platform. He ran promising to realign the existing order, smash the government bureaucracy, and remake it, change the way foreign and domestic policy was conceived and executed. Four decades later, Donald Trump was promising the same thing, to smash an irretrievably corrupt system. Because both men posed mortal threats to this entrenched power and influence to the establishment and the media, they’re both regarded with sneering disgust and considered unworthy of the job, and unworthy of the respect that goes with that job. If either man were allowed to succeed, that spells the end of the swamp, right? It spells the end of their power, their influence, and their gravy train. They had to destroy Nixon, they have to destroy Donald Trump. The same long knives that were out for Nixon are out for Trump.
Unlike Nixon, however, Trump has never before held high office, so he’s making a few rookie mistakes here and there which I think are playing right into the hands of his enemies. So I think he could benefit from Nixon’s hard-earned wisdom if, that’s a big if when it comes to the President, if he listens to what history is trying to tell him. If you’ve got a White House under siege, you cannot have a dodge-and-weave strategy, especially when there’s nothing to hide, because that only encourages more probing and more questions, and still, presidents in trouble can’t seem to help it. It’s sort of their natural instinct. I remember one time President Nixon said to me, “Why did I go through the damn fire if nobody is ever going to learn from my experience?“
So, assuming that there are no violations here, Trump should calmly restate the truth, let the surrogates fight the fevered fantasies of his enemies, stay clear of the ongoing investigations, try to contain leaks, and focus on the agenda that he was elected to implement. The lesson of Nixon, though, is, if wrongdoing becomes evident or if it’s manufactured, the lessons I think are also clear. You’ve got to tell the truth quickly, fire people if necessary, explain the situation and the circumstances, and take meaningful responsibility. When a president hesitates, even in the face of a scandal that’s hyped on media suspicion only, it can create this perception of guilt and that is a feedback loop that never ends well, especially for a Republican president.
Nixon one time said to me, ”I knew there was a double standard out there, I just didn’t realize that when it came to me there’d be a triple standard.“ His point was not to evade personal responsibility, it was that he should have recognized that given the threat he posed to the all-powerful elite class he should have been hyper-vigilant and hyper-ethical leaving no openings anywhere for anybody to use against him.
A couple of years after he resigned, Nixon gave a series of interviews to David Frost, and they became very famous, and at one point he made a very profound admission. He said, “I brought myself down. I gave them the sword, and they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish, and I guess if I had been in their position, I would have done the same thing.“ He later added, “I made so many bad judgments. The worst ones, mistakes of the heart rather than the head, but let me say, the man in that top job has got to have a heart, but his head must always rule his heart.“ President Trump can enjoy a successful presidency, and he’s had many, many victories in this existential war against the swamp, but he’s also got to heed the warnings of a former man in that top job who learned the hard way the brutal ending in store if you give your enemies the sword.
So look, this war against the swamp is bigger than Donald Trump. This is a once-in-a-lifetime shot at neutralizing the ruling class. We’ll never destroy them, we’ll never eliminate them, but neutralizing them long enough to bring America back to its foundational principals of individual liberty, free-market capitalism, and the rule of law. This is about freeing this great country from the stranglehold of the elites, the swamp, and putting the power back where the founders intended, with us.
But just as Donald Trump must do his part, we’ve got to do our part as well. The swamp has won its share of battles over the past year or so, claimed its share of scalps. We know those stories. It’s hurt this president and his agenda. It’s worn down the enthusiasm and will of many of his supporters, but I’m here to tell you, do not lose heart. Many of us see our champion in Donald Trump. He may be imperfect, but in the words of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “You go to war with the army and the leader you have.“ Donald Trump has made mistakes as all presidents do, but he remains dauntless in the face of this barrage and for that he deserves tremendous gratitude and support. Donald Trump has discovered you only take flak when you’re over the target. We’re over the target. This is the moment that’s going to determine whether we are truly going to have an American reformation. If the swamp succeeds in destroying this president’s agenda, we may never get another chance at this, but if he succeeds, we could have a Morning in America moment that will make Ronald Reagan’s legendary era of optimism and reform pale in comparison.
So, I leave you with this rallying cry. Once more into the breach, guys. Let’s make this disruptor and disruption the exception to the rule, the one that succeeds in government. Let’s roll. God bless you, thank you so much. Thank you.
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