Donald Trump has lived his life in a binary choice world. As biographer Tony Schwartz puts it, “You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it…this narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. ‘When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,’ he told a recent biographer, ‘I’m basically the same.”’
Now the first grader wants to take on the prosecutor’s prosecutor, Robert Mueller. His lawyer Jay Sekulow said Sunday, “The President has been clear that he wants to interview. I will tell you his legal team is concerned.” Concerned, they’re wearing Depends. Trump actually wants to sit down in a room with Mueller and discuss obstruction of justice, jury tampering, aiding and abetting, collusion and conspiracy. Mister “react rather than reflect” really wants to go in and discuss the facts of the FBI probe into Russia’s attack upon the 2016 election, because somehow, fantastically, he believes he can bluff Mueller.
…facts are whatever Trump deems them to be on any given day. When he is challenged, he instinctively doubles down — even when what he has just said is demonstrably false. I saw that countless times, whether it was as trivial as exaggerating the number of floors at Trump Tower or as consequential as telling me that his casinos were performing well when they were actually going bankrupt. In the same way, Trump would see no contradiction at all in changing his story about why he fired Comey and thereby undermining the statements of his aides, or in any other lie he tells. His aim is never accuracy; it’s domination.
Trump is so far out of his depth that it is pathetic and any descent into fight or flight mode is going to blow up in his face. Rick Wilson, Rolling Stone:
A meeting with Mueller is the big leagues, where the stakes are existential, the opposing team is merciless and the downside risks are the size of the White House. This impulsive, stubborn man can’t resist trying to pull off this stunt. […]
Think about the glorious hubris it takes to trust that the famed Trump bullshit volcano will conquer that interview. It’s delusional to believe that the same techniques Trump deployed in an endless chain of bankruptcies, failed projects, skipped debts, screwed vendors, shady third-world real estate branding schemes, multi-level marketing flops and endless self-fellating ego aggrandizement will work in the face of serious men and women who have rolled up terrorists, mobsters and spies.
These aren’t trifling people. These aren’t rubes in a long chain of greater-fool theory bankers, condo buyers and reality-TV-addicted aspirational Trump-brand purchasers whom he fooled time and again. […]
The distance between Trump’s belief that he’s a superstar negotiator who can take on seasoned investigators and bullshit his way out of the Russia investigation is ludicrous, but the very concept represents a broader, more telling point about Trump, our current media climate and America’s changed politics.
If not now, then very soon the president’s lawyers will be eyeing the exits, power-calling their media contacts and having panicked off-the-record conversations, whispering that they never knew just how bad it was going to be. Trump has slipped the leash. He’s gone full rogue, defying not only legal advice but every member of his slope-shouldered claque of shell-shocked, thousand-yard stare advisers. He’s back to tweeting with a manic vigor typically seen only in people equipped with a Red Bull IV drip and a pound of pure Bolivian flake on their desk.
Trump has tweeted the words “no collusion” 436 times. Everything Trump tweets is not only admissible in a court of law, it is a part of the presidential record. His tweet about Junior attending the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary was stupidly destructive. Unquestionably somebody has tried to explain to him the gravity of this admission — but maybe the explanation bounced off, as everything does if not totally about him.
The Trump I got to know had no deep ideological beliefs, nor any passionate feeling about anything but his immediate self-interest. He derives his sense of significance from conquests and accomplishments. “Can you believe it, Tony?” he would often say at the start of late-night conversations with me, going on to describe some new example of his brilliance. But the reassurance he got from even his biggest achievements was always ephemeral and unreliable — and that appears to include being elected president. Any addiction has a predictable pattern: The addict keeps chasing the high by upping the ante in an increasingly futile attempt to re-create the desired state. On the face of it, Trump has more opportunities now to feel significant and accomplished than almost any other human being on the planet. But that’s like saying a heroin addict has his problem licked once he has free and continuous access to the drug. Trump also now has a far bigger and more public stage on which to fail and to feel unworthy.
Trump’s default position is distrustful and scared, and criticism, heaven forfend, enrages him and pushes him closer to a blow up.
No importuning by his advisers stands a chance of constraining him when he is this deeply triggered. The more he feels at the mercy of forces he cannot control — and he is surely feeling that now — the more resentful, desperate and impulsive he becomes.
Those words were written last year after the Comey firing. How do you think Trump is feeling now, not knowing exactly what Mueller knows about his Russian dealings, but fearing the worst? The bigger they come the harder they fall and the fall of Trump is going to be one for the ages.