Last Thursday, Brad Parscale, the former manager of the Trump campaign’s shadowy digital arm and later the head of the entire 2020 operation, attended a Zoom hearing connected to his hour-long standoff with police in late September. Though the story has shifted somewhat over the last months, what is certain is that Parscale was armed and threatening violence following a disagreement with his wife; the situation was hostile enough that both hostage negotiators and a SWAT team were called in.
At the time of the incident, police reported that Parscale’s wife has bruises on her arms and face; detectives reported that Candice Parscale’s husband “hits her” and had loaded a gun before she fled the home. Though Candice later recanted the allegation of domestic abuse, Parscale had 10 guns and various ammunition seized by court order after “further investigation revealed that Mr. Parscale’s drinking and violent behavior increased shortly after he was demoted at his employment.” That employment, of course, was heading Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign until the president unceremoniously demoted the once-favored master of Facebook’s dark arts. Following the incident in September and an involuntary hospitalization, Parscale split entirely with the campaign.
But at the very same moment Parscale’s lawyers were seeking to bar the court from taking the disgraced former operative’s psychiatric medical records into account in its determination of whether he is too much of a “red flag” to be so heavily armed, a number of mainstream news outlets were apparently failing to clock any warning signs of their own. In the immediate aftermath of the election, casting around for anyone at all to speak for the record about Trump’s twilight-in-the-bunker phase, it seems they all found Parscale, described as the president’s “former campaign manager” instead of, say, a man allegedly involved in a violent domestic dispute who also happened to have been investigated recently for laundering campaign money to advisors and friends though a series of shell firms bearing his name.
“The president is still loved by tens of millions of Americans, and that’s not going to change anytime soon,” Parscale insisted to the Washington Post for a Sunday story about Trump’s legacy. “He can literally do whatever he wants, including running again.” The day after the election began, he was similarly quoted in the New York Times: “It isn’t like his Twitter account or his ability to control the news cycle will stop.” A Time magazine story on Tuesday that noted Parscale had spent four years working closely with the Trump family also featured Parscale as an expert on the political future: “He can literally do anything he wants. He’s loved by millions of people.” Such identically cloying quotes could be read as an attempt to fall back in Trump’s favor, or set Parscale up as the shepherd of a successful political legacy rather than a henchman for a barely legitimate regime that in its last gasps is still refusing to concede. He is, after all, reportedly shopping a book.
In the week following the endless Tuesday of an election—an election it appears will never truly be over in the minds of the Trump family and its allies—it’s been instructive to see who is being pushed in front of the spotlight to hold forth on the president’s future and current state of mind. As canny politicians speak on background to the press or simply have the good sense to keep their mouths shut, the opportunistic figures that defined the last four years are the last available figures to fill the Trump-shaped hole in the news. The hope that they might be shamed into submission was unfounded, it turns out: Anthony Scarramuci is talking to the New Yorker about whether Trump will leave the country following his loss. Sean Spicer and Michael Cohen are making headlines predicting, respectively, a Trump 2024 campaign and a vacation in Mar-a-Lago for the remainder of his term. Maybe, eventually, we’ll hear the end of these guys, but the end of their era certainly hasn’t come yet.