The knives are out for Donald Trump. ‘The President blew it,’ former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday’s Late Show about the government shutdown. Yesterday the intelligence chiefs disputed Trump’s assessments of Iran and North Korea. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed a measure decrying a ‘precipitous withdrawal’ from Syria and Afghanistan.
And it’s only going to get worse for Trump. Roger Stone’s statement that the Mueller investigation is a ‘speeding bullet heading for his head’ offers a reminder that he has failed as badly at impeding, or even shuttering, the Mueller investigation as he did at constructing a border wall. The smorgasbord of explanations that Trump and co. have offered — there was no collusion, if there was collusion it didn’t even involve Trump and, anyway, collusion, if it occurred, wouldn’t have been such a bad thing — has only heightened the scrutiny on the president.
As ever, Trump is responding with a mixture of belligerence and self-pity to his critics. To his incredulity, even his former ‘video guy,’ as Trump called him, has emerged with a book called Team of Vipers prompting Trump to vipe him in a tweet: ‘A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!’ Oh, well. At least Trump didn’t call him a dog like Omarosa, another staffer-turned-author who dilated upon his multifarious shortcomings.
But perhaps Trump’s most outlandish tweets center on his war against the intelligence agencies. ‘Perhaps intelligence should go back to school!,’ Trump proclaimed this morning in one of his more jejune statements. He’s essentially going to war against Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, claiming that he has superior knowledge about what is transpiring in North Korea, where he’s found love, and Iran, where he’s intent on bringing down the regime. According to Trump, he’s quashing Iran’s regional ambitions — by withdrawing from Syria?
The most basic problem for Trump, as Doyle McManus astutely points out in the Los Angeles Times, is that he’s antagonizing Senate Republicans: ‘Trump has burned so many bridges, reversed so many positions and proved so unreliable a partner that he can no longer be sure of his own allies in the Senate.’ McManus points to the problems that this creates for Trump’s reelection in 2020 since he won’t be able to get much, if any, legislation passed in the next two years. But it is also the case that Trump needs the Senate to serve as a barrier to impeachment, which is a political decision. If enough Republican senators decide that Trump is a political liability, then his goose is cooked. For now, however, Democrats can rejoice as Trump keeps doubling, tripling, quadrupling (?) down on his base and boosting their own electoral prospects in 2020. Soon enough, they will realize that, far from being a potent threat, Trump is the best thing to happen to them.