What just happened to Donald Trump?


Because he launched a minor airstrike against Syria last night, for the sake of appearances Donald Trump didn’t head to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort this weekend. We’ve seen that Trump doesn’t like it when the important issues of the nation get in the way of his golf game, so this should have set up an explosively ugly day today for Trump. For all we know, he might be throwing chairs at Stephen Miller’s forehead behind the scenes. But the one thing we do know is that he’s gone oddly silent – and that doesn’t add up.


This morning Trump simply posted a pair of tweets in response to the Syria strike. We’re not even sure he wrote them, because they were too tame, if sufficiently miscapitalized. But the upshot is that, sixteen hours later, he still hasn’t popped off today. Not about James Comey. Not about Andrew McCabe. Not even about Hillary Clinton. So what happened?


There have long been stories about Trump’s handlers confiscating his phone and “hiding” it from him during the times when they’re desperate to keep him from tweeting. The day after a U.S. military strike would certainly qualify. But the reality is that if Trump truly wanted his phone, he could force his staff to cough it up. Besides, he’s recently run off most of his handlers anyway. Trump is choosing not to tweet his usual toxic garbage today.

That leaves two possibilities. One is that Donald Trump understands the need to keep up appearances in the wake of a military strike, and he’s voluntarily agreed to put a hold on litigating his criminal scandals in the court of public opinion. But that would require some degree of discipline and self control, something which Trump has been increasingly lacking as things get worse for him. The other possibility is that Trump understands just how awful the Michael Cohen development is for him, and he’s scared silent, if only for a day. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. But something has been off today.

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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report

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