Donald Trump isn’t trying to save himself from being impeached. He’s aiming for a plea deal.

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When Donald Trump learned that he’s going to be impeached for his Ukraine scandal, he had to know that his fate was going to rest in the hands of Republican Senators. All things being equal, they’d love to acquit him, but even Trump knows that they won’t risk harming their own personal chances of reelection just to save him. So why did Trump decide that his next move was to alienate the Republican Senate as thoroughly as possible?

There have been a number of theories as to why Donald Trump’s first impeachment inquiry-era move was to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and invite Turkey to massacre the U.S.-allied Kurds. After all, it’s one of the very few moves he could have made that would force Republican Senators to start taking a public stand against him. He’s now begging the jury to convict him. But why?

Some have suggested that Trump is being personally paid off by Turkey’s Erdogan, or that Putin made Trump do it as one last favor, or that Trump’s failing brain is now too rotted to realize just how self defeating of a move it was. But the more I look at the totality of the available evidence, the more I find myself coming to a different conclusion: Trump is past the point of caring about ouster. He’s more worried about going to prison.

Whenever Palmer Report points out that Donald Trump is going to prison, there’s always pushback from the pessimists out there. But a New York grand jury is already targeting Trump for indictment on state charges. We know this because the grand jury issued the subpoena for Trump’s tax returns that’s currently being contested in court. Whether the grand jury gets Trump’s tax returns or not, it already has more than enough evidence from Michael Cohen alone to return an indictment against Trump.

Donald Trump knows this too. He’s delusional but he’s not that delusional. He knows that if he loses the election, which as things currently stand is very likely, he’ll be arrested the minute he’s no longer the president. If he refuses to leave the White House, law enforcement will simply drag him out. He’ll be denied bail because he’s a flight risk to Russia, and that’ll be it. He’ll be convicted on at least some of the financial charges, and at his age he’ll never get out of prison. His life is already effectively over.

Trump is already being impeached, and there’s no changing that. If he was naively hoping to be able to carve out some kind of legacy, that’s already over. He has zero accomplishments to deflect from his legacy as an impeached traitor. His presidency is already ruined. The only remaining bargaining chip he has is to offer to resign, or to not seek reelection, in exchange for a plea deal.

The thing is, whenever Donald Trump has decided that it’s time to privately admit defeat and walk away while publicly claiming victory, he’s always sought to gain the most leverage possible before cutting his losses (see his six bankruptcies). Trump isn’t going to get much leniency from prosecutors by simply agreeing to resign.

But if Trump creates a complete disaster where a foreign country is massacring American allies while dropping bombs precariously close to U.S. troops – which is precisely what he’s doing right now in Syria – it gives everyone involved additional incentive to get him out of office as quickly as possible. Or did you think it was an accident that Trump left U.S. troops in the line of fire, while ordering them to stand down, instead of simply bringing them home?

House Democrats want to get Donald Trump out of office as quickly as possible, because they want to save lives. Senate Republicans want to get Trump out of office as quickly as possible, because they don’t want to take the blame for the massive Kurdish deaths and inevitable U.S. military deaths that are playing out in real time. By making a horrible mess that must be immediately solved, Trump must think he can use it as leverage to demand the most lenient plea deal possible. It makes sinister logical sense, as it really is Trump’s only shot at getting a shorter prison sentence. His presidency is gone; he’s focused on trying to avoid spending the rest of his life in a cage.

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