Now that even Donald Trump knows he’s hosed in the Russia scandal, the big question has been how he’s going to plot his endgame. In the month since the arrests of his associates began, and in the week since top adviser Michael Flynn decided to cut a plea deal against him, Trump has gone off the deep end on Twitter and in his public remarks. Now he’s moving beyond words and taking action, but that action looks a lot like shuffling the deck chairs as his ship sinks.
On Thursday, it leaked to the media that Trump is planning to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Once that happens, Trump will promote CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been on the job for less than a year, to Secretary of State. Then he’ll promote Senator Tom Cotton, who is less than halfway through his first term, to CIA Director. Then the Republican Governor of Arkansas will appoint someone to replace Tom Cotton.
What does all of this accomplish? Literally nothing. Trump will be going from one comically unqualified Secretary of State to another. On top of it, he appointed Pompeo to run the CIA in the hope that Pompeo would misuse the position to sabotage the Trump-Russia investigation, and that hasn’t worked. It’s unlikely that Cotton will have any greater success in that regard. The only thing Trump will gain here is the satisfaction of getting to fire Tillerson, who committed the crime of calling Trump a “moron” behind his back.
So this is how Donald Trump is using the limited time and dwindling political capital he has left. He’s not using it to try to save himself. Instead, as his Trump-Russia scandal prepares to completely sink him, he’s focused on settling internal scores with an ally who made an out-of-turn remark while frustrated one day. He’s sunk.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report