To understand President Trump, one must take him at his word, when he said, in effect, if someone hits you, hit back harder. He is no President Obama, who what ever his shortcomings, was publically self-reflective in assessing his actions and even beliefs. For Trump, Obama’s approach represented weakness.
Trump derives his strength by avoiding any hesitancy in declaring the validity of his actions and beliefs. This is true even when this actions and policy positions lead down different paths, because at the moment when he speaks, he truly believes that they are valid.
Hence, his current attorneys do not want him to be interviewed by Special Investigator Mueller, because Trump’s public statements are a string of contradictions. His current personal attorney Rudy Giuliani correctly characterized this danger as a “perjury trap.” Any interview with Trump would challenge his ability to see the world other than how he sees it: one that shifts as circumstances change.
He and his supporters do not see this inconsistency as “lies”. They are simply truths at the moment they were spoken, and not necessarily before or afterwards. Like all of us, his reality is influenced by his frame of mind. However, in his case, his self-confidence seems to allow him to believe that he is actually shaping the reality around him, even when it is inconsistent with evidence that can be seen by nonpartisans.
This reality gap was visually demonstrated his first week in office when he declared that the crowd size for his inauguration was the largest ever. The photo evidence, proved him wrong. But he refused to believe the photos, continuing to argue , through his public servants, that there were conditions that impacted the photos, which accounted for him not making an error.
Of course that was minor stuff in comparison to where we are today, with his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, both admitting or convicted of felonies. Trump, however, focused on a technical sliver of truth: he was not named in either conviction. However the description of “individual-1” identified in Cohen’s plea agreement, was a federal candidate who directed him to make or oversee payments in 2016 to secure the silence of women poised to accuse that individual of having adulterous affairs with the candidate. Who could that possibly be? Whoever it was, that person may well have committed a federal crime.
Fox prime time commentators Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, who reach 25% of all TV news viewers, encourage and support Trump’s alternative view of reality. Hours after the convictions were announced they argued that even if it was Trump, so what? There was no federal crime since he was not President at that time and he was just using his own funds for a non-campaign purpose. It was likened to settling a lawsuit from a disgruntled employee. Were Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal Trump employees? Check out Hannity & Levin’s exchange from Tuesday August 21st.
Trump’s second truthful statement was that neither conviction mentioned collusion with Russia. This message was repeated through out the day by Fox News commentators. However, the continual reference to Russian collusion is a misdirected focus. Interestingly, when Sean Hannity asked his guest commentator former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy how did the trials of Cohen and Manafort come about when Muller’s search was for Russian collusion. McCarthy told him that the Mueller’s main focus is obstruction of justice and that Russian collusion was just one thread of Mueller’s investigation. Trump denied Russian collusion multiple times after the convictions were announced, but made no mention of a possible obstruction of justice charge.
It’s apparent that no matter what future convictions may uncover, Trump will fight their revelations as phony and accuse Mueller of being out to get him. The enemy for him will continue to be the corrupt Democrats, and the fake news media, with the exception of Fox News. It’s not altogether a weak strategy, up until the Cohen and Manafort convictions, Trump’s constant attacks on Mueller’s investigation has lead to less than half of the public supporting it and two-thirds wanting it to end before the November elections.
Trump’s insistence that reality conform to his perception, leads to the inevitable conclusion that even if the Democrats somehow won the House and impeach Trump, he would most likely conclude before any final vote was taken in the Senate, that Congress was rigged against him. He made a similar remark of the entire election process when as a candidate he was behind in the polls and it looked like he might lose.
Despite being a pugnacious fighter, who enjoys taunting his opponents, he has another characteristic, which rallies his core supporters. He is a victim of The Deep State, the ever-present demon of the far-right, which secretly manipulates our nation’s future. Numerous polls indicate that it’s a belief that may be shared by up to a third of the nation.
If Trump feels he can no longer tolerate the conspiracy of his enemies to oust him, he may well ignore the decisions of our democratic institutions and appeal to his core supporters to save our constitution from the evil deep state. That crisis may just force Republicans in Congress to publicly object to his inability and disinterest in maintaining our democracy. If they don’t, then the foundations of our democratic society will have shifted off of their institutional base to one dependent on the beliefs and whims of whoever is “the leader”.