Up until this past week, Donald Trump appeared to be hanging onto a delusional shred of hope that he just might somehow survive the comprehensive criminal case being built against him. But something changed when he learned that Michael Flynn has decided to cut a deal against him. Trump’s behavior has entered a new phase in which I believe he’s now trying to set up the most favorable endgame strategy he can.
Trump spent all year trying to make sure he never ended up on the wrong side of Michael Flynn. He fired Sally Yates from the Department of Justice in an effort to avoid having to fire Flynn. He asked FBI Director James Comey to give Flynn a free pass. He then fired Comey in part to prevent him from investigating Flynn. This isn’t about loyalty, as Trump has never shown loyalty to anyone. This is about Trump knowing that Flynn has the goods on him to take him down. Now that Flynn has flipped on him to save his own son, everything has changed.
Donald Trump now seems to believe he can no longer survive this. So he’s doing what he’s always done throughout his career whenever he’s realized he’s going to lose: he’s trying to set up one last deal that allows him to bail under the most favorable terms possible. The people who say “Trump is too [fill in the blank] to resign” have missed the part where he’s cut his losses through bankruptcy or other means and walked away every time he’s ever failed over the years. So what does his endgame look like?
Trump is trying to make us as miserable as possible. He’s tweeting the most horrid things he can think of, on a level that’s jarring even for him. He’s threatening to ruin Christmas by shutting down the government just in time for the holidays. He thinks if he tortures us enough, he can then offer to resign in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution. Right now he’s clinging to the delusion that he can negotiate walking out the door as a free man. The American people won’t let him off that easy; he’s going to prison.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report