Further and Further Out of Touch
Does Donald Trump really not understand why people believe James Comey over him? Seriously?
How delusional is President Donald Trump? The Washington Post has Friday's answer to that evergreen question, in the form of a sprawling deep-dive into the dysfunctional circus known as the Trump presidency.
There are a bunch of juicy details in the piece, by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, but this stuck out at me for being a hallmark of self-absorption and separation from reality:
Trump is most bothered by what he views as the one-sided portrayal and overall unfairness of the Russia investigation, senior White House officials said. He thinks media reports automatically treat Comey's version of events as superior to his own and have not focused enough on Mueller's hiring of some investigators who have donated to Democratic candidates.
Why, oh why, would anyone view former FBI director and painfully straight shooter James Comey over Donald Trump? You mean putting aside the fact that Trump is a renowned fabulist who makes things up on a daily-or-more basis?
How about the fact that Comey wrote out contemporaneous memos recounting his conversations with Trump? And has testified about the encounters under oath? And that no evidence has come to light – I mean real evidence, not denials from Trump and his team – to disprove anything Comey's said? There are phone logs which can be checked, witnesses to Comey's side of some of the conversation and other confirmation (like Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that he was indeed shooed out of the Oval Office so Trump and Comey could meet alone).
Chris Britt/Creators Syndicate
What's Trump got? He's got the "tapes" cul-de-sac, which perfectly exemplifies his credibility problem. He famously floated on Twitter, remember, the notion that he had recorded his conversations with Comey. Did he? He now says that he did not. The whole notion seemed implausible from the start, but really Trump saying anything – whether it's that he recorded conversations or didn't – should not at this point cause anyone to think the assertion more or less likely. There is no more or less reason, in other words, to think that Trump recorded conversations now than there was before he first raised the idea.
But were we to take him at his current word, we could only conclude that he had engaged in a 40-day epic prevarication. There were never tapes but he threw the idea out there baselessly and let it linger as a distraction until withdrawing it. And he wonders why he has a credibility problem?
Of course the original "tapes" tweet prompted Comey to pass his memos to the press, which in turn helped spur the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, so Trump's own clumsiness backfired spectacularly. (And on Mueller, is Trump suggesting that the special counsel should only be permitted to hire people who were Trump supporters? Seriously?)
And it's the Trumpster fire that keeps on burning: The president suggested in a "Fox & Friends Interview" aired Friday morning that the tweets had been aimed at affecting Comey's testimony before Congress. That seems like something which might end up in Mueller's investigation as well.
Which brings us back to The Washington Post piece. The reporters interviewed 22 administration officials and other Trump allies and found "a White House still trying, after five months of halting progress, to establish a steady rhythm of governance while also indulging and managing Trump's combative and sometimes self-destructive impulses."
The tapes tweets and virtually everything Trump has said and done regarding them since falls pretty squarely into the category of self-destructive impulses. And no surprise, per the Post, Trump's aides "have resigned themselves to managing – rather than curtailing – his almost-daily missives." As I've said before, Team Trump can't hope to stop him, they can only hope to contain him.
Part of that containment process apparently involves 6:30 a.m. daily phone calls from the president to one of his outside lawyers to vent about the Russia investigation. The idea apparently is to let him spend his Russia-rage before heading to the office in hopes that he might actually be productive in his day job. "Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed," the Post reports. (And oh my god how does that miserable morning duty get allotted? Do the lawyers draw straws and tell him who to call the next morning? Do they all have to be ready because he decides spur-of-the-moment?)
Then there's this:
Some in the White House fret over what they view as the president's fits of rage, and Trump's longtime friends say his mood has been more sour than at any point since they have known him. They privately worry about his health, noting that he appears to have gained weight in recent months and that the darkness around his eyes reveals his stress.
Many have wondered how well a 70-year-old with a junk food diet would adjust to the most stressful job in the world. Would he feel the weight of the office or be so self-absorbed that it would slide right off? Apparently he feels the weight of his own self-absorption.
This would be great entertainment if it wasn't real life.
Source: US News