Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Why Trump Goes Out of His Way to Incriminate Himself

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Frank Rich is interviewed in New York:

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, Trump’s persistent self-incrimination, the ongoing trial of Paul Manafort, and the lessons of Ohio’s special election.

This weekend, Donald Trump changed his story once again about the infamous June 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower, tweeting that its purpose was in fact to “get information” on Hillary Clinton. What does he get out of his continued potentially self-incriminating tweets?

A very good question. Part of me wonders if our president gets some kind of psychosexual thrill out of his repeated use of Twitter as a vehicle for reckless self-incrimination now that Playboy is no longer minting new Playmates for him to prey upon. He’s like the killer who keeps returning to the scene of the crime, ignoring the bloodhounds on his trail. There’s no method to his madness. It’s just madness.

To those of us in the reality-based community, after all, it’s self-evident that Trump has been building Robert Mueller’s obstruction case for him from the moment he gave self-contradictory explanations for his firing of James Comey. He’s only upped the ante since. Just a week ago, the president called for his own attorney general to shut down Mueller’s inquiry “right now.” Obstruction hardly gets balder than that.

Trump would argue that what we call self-incrimination he calls “fighting back,” just as what we call a criminal investigation he calls a “witch hunt.” It’s in this same Orwellian vein that he and his brilliant counsel, Rudy Giuliani, have also taken to declaring that “collusion” is not a crime (even as the president incessantly pleads innocent to this non-crime), and that both men keep maintaining a semantical charade about the ground rules under which Trump will sit voluntarily for an interview with the special counsel.

Spoiler alert: Trump will never submit to that interview. Mueller will be left with little choice but to subpoena him. That’s when all hell will break loose in a constitutional crisis such as we have not seen since the summer of 1974 in the Nixon endgame. To make this sequel even more hellish than the original, Trump’s new nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could be the deciding vote in the showdown. If Paul Manafort thought he could get away with witness tampering, he’s a mere amateur next to Trump, who will think nothing of tampering with the nine jurors in the highest court in the land.

But in a way these legal issues are beside the point in understanding Trump’s modus operandi. He doesn’t mind making himself vulnerable to punishment under the law because he doesn’t believe the law is legitimate or as powerful as he is. To him, jurisprudence is just another adversary to be bullied and mowed down like Little Marco or Crooked Hillary. That’s why the possibility of implicating himself in an obstruction case doesn’t really concern him. His plan is to destroy the rule of law before any case gets far enough to put him in legal jeopardy. His goal is not to prove his innocence in a court of law but to discredit the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence agencies, and, of course, the special counsel before he ever gets to court. On a parallel track he’s out to destroy the news media that report on his flagrant lawlessness. He’s even persuaded 43 percent of Republicans, according to an Ipsos poll provided to the Daily Beast, that he should have the power to “close down news outlets” if he chooses.

After Nixon’s demise — brought about by his own vehicle for self-incrimination, the White House tapes — the consensus had it that the system worked. This time the system is being burned down before our eyes by its own chief executive. Given the complete and utter moral collapse of the Vichy Republicans in Washington, the only hope for rescuing it is for the Democrats to gain control of either or both chambers of Congress.

During testimony at the Manafort trial this week, Manafort deputy Rick Gates has testified that at his boss’s discretion he filed false tax returns and falsified applications for bank loans. Have his admissions changed anything about how we should think about the inner machinations of the Trump campaign, on which both Gates and Manafort served? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2018 at 12:33 pm

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