My blog post originally published on September 6, 2016.

Aundra Willis Carrasco
12 min readApr 24, 2024

PREFACE: At long last, the spectacle of the “Trump On Trial” comeuppance has become a reality. The media coverage has a strong hold on nationwide attention and continues to permeate the airwaves with round-the-clock coverage. Having been around for the Watergate Hearings in the summer of 1974, I vividly recall the national outrage at the shocking revelations of outrageous criminal activity by President Richard Nixon and his band of outlaws. But the Watergate Scandal pales in comparison to the crimes committed by Donald Trump and the irreparable damage he has done to this country. As the disgusting orange-hued images of this criminal defendant, who is facing 91 felony counts, after being criminally indicted 4 times, consistently invade our lives, it is still hard to believe that this linguistically-impoverished sleazy Charlatan was able to con his way into the White House. If not for the fact that his election in 2016 was a clear demonstration that there are a lot of low-information people in this country who also happen to be racists, none of this national nightmare would have seemed possible.

“I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a Con when we see one!”

With these words spoken at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a penetrating salvo into the political stratosphere, emphatically placing the GOP nominee Donald Trump in the category in which he rightfully belongs. Con Man.

When Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul, approached the podium in the Wells Fargo Center arena in Philadelphia, it had been widely reported and was expected that he would endorse Hillary Clinton. But seconds into his speech, it was clear to every listener that it would be so much more. Bloomberg vs. Trump. Two New Yorkers. The real billionaire vs. the fake billionaire.

Thoughtfully and methodically, Bloomberg wasted no time hammering and excoriating Trump in his rousing and powerful speech. And as the audience roared with approval, the understanding was clear. He was referencing notorious con artists from our recent past. Men who had perfected the art and science of the con job. And he was boldly inserting Donald Trump’s name into that infamous hall of fame list.

Throughout history there have been a number of these shrewd and cunning practitioners of the con who shocked our moral sensibilities. From audacious snake-oil salesmen of yesteryear to modern day manipulators, swindlers and grafters, and more recently, the ubiquitous Internet stalker, the Nigerian prince. Men like Bernie Cornfeld (Con Timeline: 1962–1973) the prominent businessman and mutual funds huckster. George Parker (Con Timeline: 1920s) the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge. Frank Abagnale (Con Timeline: 1963–1969) the great imposter and check forger. David Hampton (Con Timeline: 1980s) the prolific young imposter who duped wealthy Manhattanites and claimed to be the son of actor, Sidney Poitier. Lou Pearlman (Con Timeline: 1980–2007) record producer, 1990s boy band impresario and embezzler.

And the absolute king con of all time, Charles Carlo Ponzi (Con Timeline: 1919–1924) creator/perfector of the “Ponzi Scheme”. Smooth, charming and gregarious, his bio reads: “He was a genius. One of the most outrageously inventive con men in history. Movie star handsome and he boasted a smirk that could charm the dress off of the Pope.”

Ponzi’s investment fraud con is permanently associated with his name and he held the “greatest con artist of all time” title until New York financier, Bernie Madoff (Con Timeline: 1980s — 2009) outdid him with his own version of the scheme. Over two decades, Madoff conned his investors out of $65 billion dollars and is currently serving a 150-year prison term. Madoff now has the dubious distinction of being the admitted perpetrator and operator of the largest financial fraud in U.S. history.

The world of the con artist is rarified, set apart from the lives and concerns of decent, ordinary people. The practitioners exist in this parallel universe, bereft of morality, devoid of empathy and remorse, in constant search of praise, adulation and competitive descriptions such as “the smoothest con man that ever lived” and “the most notorious con man in history” and “the ballsiest con artist of all time”.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

As noted by numerous psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals, the con artist exhibits specific and identical characteristics of the human psyche, e.g., pathological narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A pattern of abnormal behavior that is characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a complete lack of understanding of others’ feelings. As Donald Trump continues to demonstrate over and over again with bizarre and inappropriate public behavior, in addition to vulgar and vengeful Tweets — he fits this profile.

What can be said of a 70 year-old man, a father and a grandfather with several adult children as well as a 10 year-old son, who would publicly mock a reporter who has a physical disability? Even worse, when the famed and internationally renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking said of him: “He is a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” Trump fired back at Hawking with this Tweet:

Therapists have long recognized that these individuals have no capacity for care, concern or love and they constantly think of themselves as victims and must strike back at the perceived injurer. Subsequently, their pride and self-worth comes from the success of the con.

“99.99% of what a sociopath says is a lie. Deliberate manipulation in lies, up layers of lies, upon lies. They have no conscience.”

“When these individuals operate without a conscience they are able to do horrible things we would never dream of doing — and there is no moral compass or guilt feelings to stop them.” Deborah Ettel, Ph.D. Psychology

Attorney, Mike Cernovich writes in The Social Psychology of Con Artists, “A great con artist is a great persuader. A con man must persuade a mark to trust him…by using principles of social psychology… persuasion; reciprocation; commitment and consistency.” The con man studies his mark and gains their confidence with promises and lies. Hence the term: “Confidence Man”.

Enter Donald J. Trump. A modern day con man who lies with extraordinary ease. The way most people take breaths between sentences.

When the opportunistic reality TV show host manipulated his way into the political discourse by questioning President Barack Obama’s legitimacy and demanding to see his birth certificate, he was taking the measure of the hate-filled national angst that was triggered by the Tea Party movement. In a very short time Donald Trump became the self-appointed Birther spokesman for the GOP and he reeked of racism with each offensive demand to see the president’s papers. And as former president Jimmy Carter pointed out:

“He has tapped a waiting reservoir of inherent racism.”

For months the GOP establishment embraced Trump’s vile rhetoric, standing by and doing absolutely nothing to extinguish the flames of hatred he was clearly igniting. He was their guy. Their attack dog who said the things they couldn’t say publicly. Moreover, they were too busy with their behind-the-scenes plot to obstruct the president’s every effort. Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, secret meetings led by GOP whip Eric Cantor, and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell were held to arrive at a general consensus and a meeting of the minds. The rule was “If he was for it, we had to be against it.” a former Senator said. And when the newly-sworn-in President went to the Hill to extend his hand, he was rejected and met with disdain and hostility. Doubters need look no further than the public declaration by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said: “Our number one priority is to make Obama a one term president.”

Meanwhile, during this distraction, Donald Trump, the celebrity demagogue was working his con. Stirring up his rapidly growing base of uninformed and uneducated Americans, and like a human wrecking ball, fracturing and ultimately destroying the Republican Party. In a few short months he had succeeded in defeating 16 GOP Primary opponents and was now in control of the Party.

For several months, the bemused political media treated and covered Trump as infotainment. He was not expected to succeed past the televised freak show debates. But they underestimated something that the reality TV veteran had already figured out in the same way a stand-up comic learns to read the room. The expert con artist identifies and then targets his mark, gaining their confidence. Mirroring their deep-seeded prejudices by convincing them that he shares their beliefs. The mark, in turn, feels obligated to reciprocate.

Trump seized on the fact that there still exists in this country profound levels of nativism, racism and antipathy, and he went about exploiting and using them to his advantage. By demonizing anyone and everyone outside of the white male demographic, he was assured of a following in massive numbers and the blind adoration on which he feeds. As evidenced by the size of the crowds attending his rallies as well as the number of devoted and obedient filibustering surrogates and sycophants appearing on every welcoming cable news television network. He has succeeded beyond even his own wildest expectations.

To be sure, Trump’s enablers, the GOP, Fox News, and for the most part, the mainstream political media are largely to blame for his success. Having struck this Faustian bargain in exchange for votes and ratings, they have left it up to the rest of America to deal with the subsequent fall-out and pay the heavy price. As I wrote in my Blog of January 29, 2016, It’s Time To Blame the Media, but the cowards in the Republican Party should shoulder the majority of the blame.

The hypocrisy on the part of so many members of the GOP of “supporting but not endorsing” this candidate is simply stunning. And after the two conventions this summer and several shake-ups in the Trump campaign organization, the shift to the general election has resulted in serious dips in Trumps poll numbers. And for several weeks now, journalists have at long last awakened from the Trump trance and have begun facing reality, asking: “How did this happen?” Now that Trump’s so-called “campaign” is unraveling before their eyes and he’s facing a massive landslide defeat in November, the ratings whores are suddenly sobering up and asking: “How did we get here?” A better question would be: What took you so long to wake up? With such an abundance of Trump’s business failures and sordid personal history in the public record, why has this not been covered?

What took you so long to investigate and report it? This is tantamount to journalistic malpractice. Entertainment factor and ratings notwithstanding, Donald Trump revealed his true racist core, as well as his rank ignorance, the minute he manipulated his way onto the airwaves as a self-appointed spokesman for the Birther movement. And as if that wasn’t offensive enough, the con artist with the vocabulary of an 8 year-old had the colossal gall to question the validity of President Obama’s Harvard and Columbia University credentials. All to the growing delight of his base of supporters who apparently and willingly absorb his hateful rhetoric through the prism of racist, nativist thoughts they already have. So even if they know they are being conned, the pay off for them is greater than the alternative, and they will continue their lemming-like support to the very end.

No politician in the history of this country has generated the kind of morbid fascination that Trump has triggered. The amount of media attention that has been lavished upon him is mind boggling. For the past year-and-a-half, he has been allowed to dominate the media landscape with racist views, vulgar comments about women and people with disabilities, unsubstantiated supermarket tabloid rumors, and endless Twitter rants and re-tweets from white supremacists. And yet, his face-to-face interviewers rarely, if ever challenge him on these proclivities or his endless stream of pathological lies. Although it’s quite possible that in his presence, the lies come so effortlessly and so quickly that it’s impossible to challenge them in real time but it’s been utterly painful to watch as seasoned television journalists and members of the press allow him to bulldoze his way through their questions with precious little, if any follow-up.

The Donald Trump campaign became a morality play months ago when journalists missed countless opportunities to challenge him on his gross misrepresentations and force him to play by the rules. Something appears to happen to interviewers during one-on-one media encounters with Trump. There is a hypnotic effect that takes hold of the questioner. First comes the signature pouting posture. Then the fixed stare as the barrage of lies begin to form behind his aging eyes. Then comes the trance-like verbal paralysis during which the interviewer experiences Trump’s heightened focus and concentration as he disarms his victim. Finally, he owns them and they are powerless under his spell. The interviewer has no memory of what just happened, and Trump is free to move on to his next raucous rally where he regales his rowdy, vociferous followers with another tirade about members of the press being “the worst types of human beings on earth”, “dishonest,” “disgusting,” “slime” “scum.”

Recently, political strategist David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, caused a wide-spread media uprising when he said that Donald Trump “meets the clinical definition of a psychopath.” He was severely criticized for “diagnosing on air” and/or “misidentifying” what he and so many others have come to view as an obvious psychological disorder.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in psychiatry to recognize and identify the erratic and very public behaviors of a 70 year-old self-aggrandizing millionaire so desperate for praise and adulation that he will say and do anything to fill his dark and empty vessel of a soul.

Plouffe may have misspoken in his use of the word “psychopath”, meaning “sociopath”, but based on Donald Trump’s public behavior, the layman’s assessment is spot-on.

The GOP nominee’s increasingly troubling exhibitions and performances, on display at every rally and television appearance, has caused many to wonder about and comment on his mental and emotional stability. Numerous psychological disorders, e.g., sociopath; pathological narcissist; and narcissistic disorder have been mentioned, and numerous mental health professionals describe individuals with narcissistic disorder as having:

· A grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

· An excessive need for admiration.

· Inability to refrain from bragging.

· Lack of understanding of others’ feelings.

· Lack of empathy for others.

· Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty.

“…The narcissist is an actor in a mono-drama…he feeds off other people who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest — in a word, to assure him that he exists.”

Sam Vaknin Ph.D. — Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited

Not surprisingly, the majority of notorious con artists have been known to exhibit these exact characteristics, and Donald Trump seemingly is a perfect match for each one. However, as Hillary Clinton said recently: “I’ll leave it up to the psychiatrists to make an appropriate diagnosis.”

Now that Trump’s enablers are in full panic mode over the state of his erratic campaign and the frightening possibility of his winning in November, their outrage is widely perceived as too little too late. Simply stated, the weak GOP failed, the ratings whores (the political media) caved, and the nation is now coming to the realization that we are in the throes of the greatest con job in recent history.

Sadly, the previous form of political journalism is a thing of the past. It has been overtaken and sullied by the reality TV culture and the mutually beneficial political discourse of previous generations is gone forever. Con man Donald Trump has used politics as a means of promoting his brand for his own further aggrandizement and enrichment, and the image of him arrogantly taking to the air waves and tipping his goofy red baseball cap while snarling: “Suckers!” is not too farfetched. It is also not entirely a stretch of the imagination to predict that the title of his next ghostwritten and purportedly “bestselling” book is very likely to be Trump: The Art of the Con”.

The reality is this. Donald Trump, a wealthy, psychologically damaged, egomaniacal man has embarrassed our country before the entire global citizenry and we have arrived at a time in our history that will surely live on in infamy. Our political journalists have lost sight of their duties and fallen in step with his lemming-like supporters and sycophants. As a result, millions of Americans have been conned and have fallen victim to Trump’s selfish manipulations.

So the question now becomes: How will this nation heal after being conned? Who will step up and take a stand, declaring a moment of reckoning. Who will give us our desperately needed Edward R. Murrow moment as was demonstrated in 1954 during the tense and explosive atmosphere of the Army-McCarthy hearings? When Murrow courageously removed the veil of journalistic objectivity and spoke honestly and directly about the dangerous authoritarian, Senator Eugene McCarthy, who had been allowed to run amok.

“…He didn’t create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it, and rather successfully…Cassius was right. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” — Edward R. Murrow

Originally published at on September 6, 2016.