Donald Trump is doing an excellent impression of a president who desperately wishes to be impeached. Congress should grant that wish, or figure out an even quicker way to bring this tragicomedy to its inevitable end. If there aren’t enough smoking guns quite yet, just wait a day or two. They’re coming at us faster than rounds from a Kalashnikov on full auto.
Could Trump’s signals be any more clear? He’s not even having fun. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump said at the Coast Guard Academy commencement. That was just a few hours before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation, and a day before Trump tweeted that “this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
Suffice it to say the job is only going to get less fun.
Given all we know about Trump himself — the disturbing real time glimpses into his mind via Twitter; his Tourette-like tendency to blurt out exactly what most presidents would know they shouldn’t; his relentless ignorance of policy, government and our nation’s founding principles — we shouldn’t be shocked by recent developments.
No one but a person hunting for an escape hatch would admit in a national TV interview that he was thinking about the “made-up” Russia story when he fired FBI Director James Comey; would ask Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s contacts with Russia, possibly violating his oath of office; and would ask Comey to pledge loyalty to him, even though FBI directors have 10-year terms precisely so they can operate independently of presidents.
Only a president eyeing the door would summon the ghost of Richard Nixon by firing Comey and then tweeting: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Only someone intent on getting ousted would fire Comey over Russia and then the very next day meet with top Russian officials in the Oval Office under a painting of George Washington, let their photographer in while barring the U.S. press, share with them highly classified information about ISIS, describe Comey to them as a “nut job,” and confide that firing him took the pressure off. (Each part of that sentence beggars belief.)
The latest tough stuff, from Trump’s perspective, is the foreign tour he’s on. “Mr. Trump, a confirmed homebody, has expressed dread about the trip,” The New York Times reported before he left Friday.
And who can blame him? The itinerary started with Saudi Arabia, a hotbed of, you know, the kind of people he’s trying to keep out of the USA, followed by Israel, reportedly the source of the top-secret Islamic State of Iraq and Syrian intelligence that Trump spilled to the Russians. Trump will be in Rome to see Pope Francis, who has indicated that Trump is not one of his favorites. The president has never had much nice to say about NATO, its member nations or their leaders, but he’ll be in Brussels to meet with them, too.
Not fun! No wonder Trump decamps nearly every weekend to his own golf clubs and resorts and luxury digs. Why does he hate Washington? Has he ever even laid eyes on Camp David?
The president needs an exit strategy that makes him look like a winner. He doesn’t deserve one; in fact, he may well turn out to deserve impeachment. But that would make him a loser and he’d fight it to the end, and the end would be a long time coming.
What would entice him to leave soon? Trump is not going to turn into a world-class philanthropist (a course I once envisioned for Mitt Romney). And Trump won’t become head of a university (been there, done that, and it wasn’t pretty). Nor can I see him growing a beard (Al Gore), promoting Viagra (Bob Dole) or taking up painting (George W. Bush). And I’d be shocked if Trump decided to devote his post-presidency to, say, fighting gerrymandering or poverty (Barack Obama).
Only one suitable option comes to mind: Somebody sell this man a TV network. He seemed to be musing about Trump TV before a comet struck Earth and he won the presidency. It’s been done — think Gore and Current TV. Trump TV would, of course, be much more yuge and would never, not ever, dare to morph into Al-Jazeera America or anything with a name like that.
Trump could brag about its large size and amazingly great American greatness. He could hire as many beautiful women as he wanted, present whatever content he wanted, star in as many shows as he wanted, and do it all right from Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. He’d never have to leave home.
Tom Nichols, a Russian expert and professor at the Naval War College, says it’s dangerous that a “raw feed” of Trump’s thoughts, emotions and reactions to stress is available to foreign intelligence analysts worldwide on Twitter. For better or worse, all of that is also available to we, the people. And to me the message, amplified by countless interviews, news conferences and leaks from panicked associates, is clear: “Get me out of here.”