Another morning, another Donald Trump tweet. But this one speaks volumes about the psyche of our commander in chief. Here, Trump is responding to reports that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigation him for obstruction of justice. Watch the pronouns he uses:
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
To Trump, this is something “they” did to him. In reality, of course, this is something Trump did to himself.
According to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony, Trump was not personally under investigation in the early stages of the Russia probe. Trump asked Comey to say that publicly, and Comey refused, in part because it meant he would then have to correct himself publicly if the investigation expanded to include Trump personally.
Trump subsequently fired Comey, and said he did so as a way of relieving the pressure of the Russia probe. It was that act — which Trump undertook entirely at his own discretion — that led to the obstruction of justice investigation.
So Trump, in his zeal to show he wasn’t being personally investigated and rid his administration of a troublesome probe, made himself the focus of an investigation and created a much more troublesome probe for his administration. “They” didn’t do this to Trump. Trump did this to Trump.
But Trump doesn’t seem to understand what he did, or how his actions led to his current problems. After Comey’s testimony, Trump called him a liar and suggested he would testify to his version of events under oath — a disastrous strategy. Earlier this week, reports emerged that Trump was thinking about firing Mueller, too — an act that would likely lead to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s resignation, and perhaps a governmental crisis. Trump was eventually talked down by his staff, but no one knows if Trump will stay talked down. The New York Times reports:
For now, the staff has prevailed. “While the president has every right to” fire Mr. Mueller, “he has no intention to do so,” the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters late Tuesday.
But people close to Mr. Trump say he is so volatile they cannot be sure that he will not change his mind about Mr. Mueller if he finds out anything to lead him to believe the investigation has been compromised. And his ability to endure a free-ranging investigation, directed by Mr. Mueller, that could raise questions about the legitimacy of his Electoral College victory, the topic that most provokes his rage, will be a critical test for a president who has continued on Twitter and elsewhere to flout the advice of his staff, friends and legal team.
Behind this furor, and its uneasy resolution, is the reality that Trump isn’t learning from his mistakes — he’s becoming embittered by them. You could see this in another Trump tweet this morning:
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
Trump’s resistance to taking responsibility for his actions is perhaps the single greatest threat facing his presidency. If he realized the damage he was doing to himself, he could perhaps stop doing it. But so long as he sees his problems as the product of an unfair “WITCH HUNT,” he will continue to see his reckless, enraged reactions as a reasonable response, and so will continue destabilizing his presidency.