Biographers who have written about Donald Trump for decades have said that the Republican would conduct his presidency much like his campaign – pitting people and countries against each other and picking fights.
"He has this deep fear that he is himself not a legitimate president, and I think that's why he goes to such great lengths to delegitimise even the intelligence community," said biographer Michael D'Antonio, the author of 2016's The Truth About Trump.
D'Antonio joined fellow Trump biographers Gwenda Blair and Tim O'Brien for an interview with Politico to discuss how they – with their intimate knowledge and research on the president-elect – predict the early days of the Trump administration would play out.
Trump "is a person who has never known whether anybody wants to be around him because he's a person they want to be around or they want to be around his money," D'Antonio said.
After getting 2.8 million fewer ballots in the popular vote than his rival Hillary Clinton, he added, "we see Trump trying to delegitimise others."
Since his election, Trump has fought back personally against criticism from everyone from actress Meryl Streep, civil rights leader and politician John Lewis and fashion designer Tom Ford to journalists and many others. "The most shocking thing I think he did was note all of his enemies in his New Year's message," D'Antonio said. "The idea of a president actually having even the thought of all of these enemies in his head as he's welcoming the new year and greeting the country is almost crazy to me."
Asked whether Trump would be able to separate the interests of all Americans from his own feelings, the panel unanimously agreed.
"Absolutely not," said O'Brien, who wrote the 2005 book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald. "There will be no divide there. The whole thing has been a vanity show from the second he ran to the Republican Convention. I think we can expect to see the same on Inauguration Day."
Trump has maintained the same way of operating "throughout his career, throughout the campaign" and up to this moment, said Gwenda Blair, who published The Trumps: Three Generations That Built An Empire in 2001.
It's "all about him completely dominating the news cycles – the use of Twitter to distract from any real questions, emphasis on loyalty, vituperation toward anyone he sees who is disloyal or doesn't toe his line, and his emphasis on conflict," she said, along with "the notion of setting people against each other. Now it's countries against each other. It's news organisations against each other."
D'Antonio said that he's been asked a lot lately why Trump seems to have such congenial feelings and affection toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Based on what I'm seeing, is that he seems to want to be the same style of leader, where he intimidates people."