For all his unique psychological failings and unusual reactions to various situations, Donald Trump has fallen victim to a surprisingly conventional mindset when it’s come to his Trump-Russia scandal. All along he’s managed to convince himself that if he just gave in a little more, sacrificed a bit more, it might somehow magically stop. When you’re the primary target, piecemeal appeasement doesn’t work. Trump still hasn’t figured that out, and now he just chopped off his own arm.
More than a year ago, Trump convinced himself that if he fired Michael Flynn, it might be enough to make the Trump-Russia scandal go away. But that didn’t work, and all it did was leave Trump without an adviser he kind of liked. He had chopped off his own pinky finger for nothing. When the investigation shifted to Paul Manafort later in the year, Trump had to decide whether to preemptively pardon Manafort before the investigation went too deep, or sacrifice him as well. Trump and Manafort go back decades, but sure enough, Trump decided to chop off another finger. After all, it was just Flynn and Manafort.
Sure enough, the investigation has continued unabated, except now Flynn has cut a plea deal and is working against Trump, and Manafort may soon do the same. So even from a selfish standpoint, this was a faulty strategy. Now the stakes are much higher. Trump declined to unilaterally grant permanent security clearance to his own son-in-law Jared Kushner yesterday, allowing his temporary clearance to be revoked, and leaving Kushner with basically no remaining job duties in the White House.
Donald Trump could have just given Jared Kushner his clearance, and it wouldn’t have been the biggest thing he’ll take heat for this week. But instead, in what sure seems to relate to the fact that Kushner is Robert Mueller’s next big target for a plea deal, Trump decided to sacrifice Kushner. Trump chopped his own arm off, surely alienating his own daughter in the process, and all it’ll get him is an increased likelihood that Kushner will indeed flip on him. He just keeps giving up a little more and a little more, and soon there will be nothing left to give up, other than his presidency.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report