Last night Donald Trump posted a retweet which demanded that two years be added onto the end of his current presidential term – a criminal and treasonous declaration that all but forces House Democrats to impeach him. This morning Trump insisted that if the Democrats don’t impeach him, he’ll win reelection. He just keeps poking the impeachment bear, and each time he does, the inevitability of impeachment becomes more certain – so why’s he doing it?
Donald Trump snapped and began forcing the impeachment issue right after he learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just days away from publicly testifying about Trump’s criminal scandals. There are two distinct schools of thought as to what happened there. The first is that Trump, who understands the power of television better than most, realized Mueller is about to destroy him in front of a TV audience – and now he’s simply reacting out of spite, without caring about how it impacts him.
The second school of thought is that Trump, who is still plenty capable of understanding strategy despite his increasing derangement – has calculated that impeachment is his only remaining shot at surviving this. As things stand, he’s not within a million miles of being popular enough to have any chance of winning in 2020. He needs things to change drastically. He’s in far too weak a position to benefit by doing something horrible, like starting an illegitimate war. Those kinds of moves only succeed in making a fairly popular president even more popular; they don’t magically make an unpopular president popular.
Instead, what Trump needs is for someone to do something to him. If the House Democrats impeach him, the most likely outcome is that it’ll drive his already-very-weak popularity even lower, and make it even more impossible for him to win in 2020. But there’s also a less likely scenario in which impeachment backfires on the Democrats, causing his popularity to rise, and perhaps putting him back in the game for 2020.
To be clear, impeachment is a bad bet for Donald Trump, one he’ll likely lose. But as things stand, he’s already lost anyway. If you’re down to your last chip, like Trump is, you might well decide to put it on a longshot bet to try to get back in the game. If Trump is indeed thinking that coherently, then he’s forcing impeachment because it’s the only shot he has left. Either that, or Trump already thinks he’s lost, and he’s essentially asking to be finished off. Take your pick.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report