We keep hearing how Donald Trump has been “emboldened” and “unrestrained” by his sham Senate acquittal, and that he’s now going to start doing Very Bad Things. If anyone tries to point out that Trump has always been doing very bad things, with the same frequency and fervor and ineptitude that he’s displaying right now, that gets shouted down. After all, the pundits and the fatalists have drilled the word “emboldened” into our heads.
The thing is, it’s just not the case. Yes, Donald Trump is illegally meddling in the Roger Stone criminal case, and yes, he’s vindictively firing people like Vindman and Sondland. But one of Trump’s very first acts in office was to illegally ask James Comey to drop the Michael Flynn criminal probe. Then when the probe continued, Trump vindictively fired Comey over it.
Along the way Trump has also meddled in the Paul Manafort case by reportedly offering him an non-existent pardon, and meddled in the Michael Cohen case by publicly making threats against Cohen’s family. Along the way Trump has vindictively fired or forced out Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and too many others to list.
This isn’t anything new. Literally nothing has changed since Donald Trump’s acquittal. He’s spent his entire presidency limping along with a 40% approval rating and weak odds of re-election, trying one dimwitted corrupt scheme after another, blowing it every time, trying again, and hoping that his next dimwitted scheme ends up helping him. There’s nothing good about what’s going on right now. But it’s also nothing new. Trump hasn’t become “emboldened” and he’s not any smarter at this villainy stuff than he was on day one. He doesn’t suddenly have a magic wand. Defeating him in November will simply require the same level of vigilance and fight that the Resistance has shown for the past three years – including when we overwhelmingly won the 2018 midterms.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report