Trump’s floundering campaign to overturn the results of Nov. 3 had reached its most obsessive stage. The president’s viewfinder was the same one that had served him well in his days as a combative and flamboyant New York property developer: The deal is the steal and the steal is the deal. If you’re not with me, you’re against me.

In his final weeks, the president had increasingly come to view his inner circle of loyalists as a bunch of weaklings and quitters.

The mild-mannered White House counsel Pat Cipollone, a voice of restraint in the Oval Office and the architect of Trump’s impeachment defense last year, was routinely finding himself in animated debates with the president.

Attorney General Bill Barr, long regarded as the most loyal member of the Cabinet, had left after refusing to endorse Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

On the evening of Jan. 4, with only two days until the votes for Biden were certified, Trump had another stab at changing the vice president’s mind, wheeling in yet another of his outside experts.