One quick observation. We’ve now seen President Trump green light a Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria and then (perhaps?) try to undo it after it was too late to undo it. He decided to feather his own nest by hosting the G-7 at his Doral golf resort (a guaranteed political firestorm) before reversing course after roughly 48 hours. It is probably fair to say that both – though especially the first – have garnered Trump more criticism from Republicans than the Ukraine extortion plot that is all but certain to get him impeached. This all fits a pattern: under threat over probable impeachment and at least conceivable removal from office Trump is lashing out right and left in efforts to demonstrate power and dominance and succeeding mainly in further eroding his political support.
One almost too good to be true illustration of this self-sabotaging pattern is that Mick Mulvaney press briefing about the Doral decision. Mulvaney looks even more like a fool having defended the obviously corrupt Doral decision only to see President Trump pull the plug on the idea two days later. But the press briefing also managed to accelerate the momentum for impeachment because he openly confirmed that the President had insisted on a quid pro quo: embracing his “DNC server” conspiracy theory in exchange for military aid.
Mulvaney tried to unsay it in an aggressive press release hours later. But there was no way to unsay it. The damage was done. Of course this was already clear as day. We saw the record of the call in which Trump made the deal clear himself. It was further confirmed in the Sondland/Volker text messages. But having the President’s Chief of Staff say it openly, aggressively, unashamedly just puts more gravity behind the obvious. And significantly, Mulvaney is the one who actually cut off the aid, the key actor in one of the key affirmative acts.
My takeaway from all of this is that Trump is in a cascading pattern in which menace and pressure lead to more self-sabotage in the form of aggressive attempts to show dominance. These lead to more political encirclement. The cycle is likely to continue and build on itself.