Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show - book cover
Politics & Government
  • Publisher : Dutton
  • Published : 16 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 384
  • ISBN-10 : 059318632X
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593186329
  • Language : English

Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show


Picking up where the New York Times bestselling Front Row at the Trump Show left off, this is the explosive look at the aftermath of the election-and the events that followed Donald Trump's leaving the White House-from ABC News' chief Washington correspondent.

Nobody is in a better position to tell the story of the shocking final chapter of the Trump show than Jonathan Karl.  As the reporter who has known Donald Trump longer than any other White House correspondent, Karl told the story of Trump's rise in the New York Times bestseller Front Row at the Trump Show. Now he tells the story of Trump's downfall, complete with riveting behind-the-scenes accounts of some of the darkest days in the history of the American presidency and packed with original reporting and on-the-record interviews with central figures in this drama who are telling their stories for the first time.
This is a definitive account of what was really going on during the final weeks and months of the Trump presidency and what it means for the future of the Republican Party, by a reporter who was there for it all. He has been taunted, praised, and vilified by Donald Trump, and now Jonathan Karl finds himself in a singular position to deliver the truth.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Betrayal
"One of the books that will define the month of November is Betrayal, the new end-of-Trump-era tome by ABC's Jonathan Karl. Betrayal convincingly makes the case that the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day was even more precarious than we knew at the time. Karl isn't a progressive pundit or a hyperbolic columnist. He is one of the most-respected correspondents in DC. He and so many others are saying: America was on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. And we could wind up back there again soon."-Brian Stelter, CNN's Reliable Sources newsletter]

"In the follow-up to Front Row at the Trump Show, the ABC News political correspondent delivers fresh news on the last months of the Trump presidency."-Kirkus (starred review)

"ABC's man in Washington delivers a second riveting and horrifying read about how close America came to disaster."-The Guardian

"As a long-time TV reporter, ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl brings an eye for life as presented on screen that is acutely appropriate for the Trump saga.  That alone might justify widening our Trump lit shelf, but Karl also adds substantially to the record of this parlous period - especially in the chaos of its final months... On substance, and on the most important subject in Betrayal, Karl shows no hesitance or equivocation. Karl sees Trump as a past, present and future threat to the orderly process of American politics and the constitutional separation of powers far beyond that posed by past presidents (or would-be presidents)... Enough of this material is new, or renewed in Karl's retelling, that it can all be compelling to read once again – even for those who have read more Trump books than they can count on their fingers ("We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...")."-NPR

Readers Top Reviews

Very accessible. Easy read. The book just flows. That said, it is also mindbogglingly revealing. Live these events all over again and gain an entirely new perspective!
Veteran reporter Jonathan Karl gives readers a behind the scenes look at the last year of the Trump Admin. Although this subject has been covered in other recent books, Karl provides information and insights I have not seen before. The above review by Frank Luntz gives an excellent summary about these, so I will not repeat this. However, I will reinforce the importance of Karl's reporting about the efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election results in order to stay in power. Far from being a political stunt, this effort was serious and might have succeeded if not for the integrity and bravery of some key officials. Karl does seem to be objective in his research and reporting, using mostly on the record interviews and sources. Overall, I highly recommend this book as important history, as well as a "wake up call" about how fragile our democracy actually is.
linda galellaMaryAnn
Unlike his last book, “Front Row at the Trump Show”, Karl makes no attempt to make an unbiased presentation with “Betrayal”. It reads like a grocery store rag and is full of the same stuff and banners that CNN & MSNBC had been touting for months on end. Karl retired his news reporter shingle and has fully embraced the infauxtainment biz, highly evident in this, the supposed “Final Act of the Trump Show”. For a reporter that has followed Trump for so long and has been given so much access, I really expected something new and insightful. Karl’s regular incredulity comes off as false as it can hardly be naive. I found this entire read frustrating and annoying as yet another reporter succumbs to rhetoric. No recommendation here; one giant sigh📚
R. Patrick Baugh
A great follow-up to “Front Row”, from a political reporter who may know Trump better than any other reporter. Lots of inside scoop on the 2020 election and the January 6 storming of the Capitol.
Audrey Shaff
This book will keep you on the edge of your seat as you realize how close we came to losing it all. It’s riveting.

Short Excerpt Teaser


One of the first calls I made as I watched the rioters move toward the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, was to John Kelly, the retired four‑star Marine general who previ‑
ously had served as President Trump's first chief of staff. More than a year before the 2020 election, as I was finishing Front Row at the Trump Show, I had asked Kelly what would happen if Trump lost the election and refused to concede. Back then the question was a hypo‑ thetical one, but it was one I had been thinking about for a long time. What if Trump tried to stay in the White House? How would this all end?

"Oh, he'll leave," Kelly told me back then. "And if he refuses to leave, there are people who will escort him out."

As chief of staff, Kelly had seen firsthand how Trump operates and he knew how the White House really functions. Clearly he had thought about this before and had played out the scenario in his mind.

"If he tried to chain himself to the Resolute," Kelly told me, refer‑ ring to the enormous desk in the Oval Office, "they would simply cut the chains and carry him out."

Kelly has a deep and commanding voice befitting a retired four‑ star Marine general. He said these words with authority, as if he was speaking an immutable truth that needed no further discussion. To Kelly it wasn't complicated. If Trump loses, he'll be gone at noon on January 20, 2021. That's what the Constitution dictates. It's as simple as that. I didn't ask any more questions, but I still had a few. Who would escort him out? Who would cut the chains? Who were "they"? Would it be the Secret Service? Would it be the Marine who stands sentry at the entrance to the West Wing? The image Kelly described was a crazy one: a defeated president getting dragged from the White House while he refuses to admit defeat. Since John Adams lost reelec‑ tion to Thomas Jefferson in 1800, every defeated president has ac‑ cepted the results and voluntarily left office. The scenario described by John Kelly seemed too disturbing-and too absurd-to consider any further. I tried not to think about it again.

By January 6, the question was no longer hypothetical. Trump wasn't due to leave the White House for two more weeks, but for nearly two months he had been denying the results of the election. And now his supporters were storming the Capitol and trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden's victory.

I broke off from ABC's live coverage of the terrifying scene un‑ folding on Capitol Hill, and I called Kelly.
"This isn't America," he told me.

Like any rational person in America, he was angry about what was happening. And he was clear that the man he had served as chief of staff was to blame.

"If he was a real man, he would go down to the Capitol and tell them to stop," he said, telling me that it was time for the Trump cabinet to step in and save the country by declaring Trump mentally unfit and removing him from office.

"If I was still there, I would call the cabinet and start talking about the Twenty‑Fifth Amendment."

Invoking the Twenty‑Fifth Amendment and getting a majority of the cabinet to agree the president is unfit for office is the equivalent of cutting the chains and forcibly escorting the president from the Oval Office. There would be more talk of the Twenty‑Fifth Amend‑ ment that night and over the coming days, but the first mention of it I had heard on January 6 was from Donald Trump's former chief of staff, while the rioters were still inside the Capitol building.

Kelly's views were shared by many who had supported and served Trump, and by more than a few who were still serving in positions of authority in his administration. I spoke to people close to Trump during his final days and weeks in office who told me they thought Trump was mentally unstable-that he had literally gone mad.

Members of his cabinet began talking about invoking the Twenty‑ Fifth Amendment during the evening of January 6. They may not acknowledge this fact publicly while Trump is still a political force, but they were. Lawyers were asked to quietly look into whether the Twenty‑Fifth Amendment made it possible for the cabinet to remove Trump from office under the current circumstances and whether such an action would survive legal challenge. When the Twenty‑Fifth Amendment option was deemed unworkable-there were several un‑ answered questions, including whether all the acting secretaries in Trump's cabinet would have a vote-a couple of cabinet secretaries resigned. Others made a pact among themselves to keep the president they served from doing more damage to the country.

Even as I wrote this book, attempts to whitewash the history of Trump's final days in office had begun. There are those who say Trump...