When dealing with someone as malignantly narcissistic, sociopathic, and delusional as Donald Trump, it can be tricky to figure out what he’s really thinking and feeling, because his thought processes are often incompatible with that of a mentally competent person.
Take, for instance, Donald Trump’s ongoing approach toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There are reports going back more than a year that he has periodically told his handlers to fire Mueller, only for them to tell him they refuse to do it. Then Trump just goes along with it, making clear that he’s not the one driving the train. Does he understand that Mueller is going to take him down? Does he only try to fire Mueller now and then out of annoyance, as opposed to a true understanding of the situation?
This week The House unanimously voted for a resolution stating that Robert Mueller’s report should be public. This is a bodyblow to Trump, because even his closest Republican allies in the House felt compelled to give a vote of confidence to Mueller, for fear that it would blow back on them. And of course Mueller’s report becoming public will be the tipping point in ending his presidency. But does Trump know that?
Here’s what Donald Trump just tweeted about it: “On the recent non-binding vote (420-0) in Congress about releasing the Mueller Report, I told leadership to let all Republicans vote for transparency. Makes us all look good and doesn’t matter. Play along with the game!” Well, no, this is not what happened. But is Trump saying this because he’s just putting on a brave face in defeat, or because he’s actually convinced himself to believe it? Unraveling sociopaths can be so tricky to parse.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report