Trump’s Mirror

Unsurprisingly, President Trump is stewing and angry about the Mueller Report. This report from CNN notes that Trump is angry about the picture of a lying President and chaotic White House. But what really gets to him apparently is the image of a President whose staff routinely ignores his orders.

Here’s one noteworthy paragraph …

Now, those close to him say Trump is newly furious at the people — most of whom no longer work for him — whose extensive interviews with the special counsel’s office created the epic depiction of an unscrupulous and chaotic White House. And he’s seeking assurances from those who remain that his orders are being treated like those of a president, and not like suggestions from an intemperate but misguided supervisor.

This and other reports I don’t think quite capture it. It’s not simply that his staffers disregarded his orders. After all, Trump didn’t need Mueller to tell him that. Trump already knew these things didn’t happen. Sessions didn’t unrecuse. Corey Lewandowski never sent his backchannel messages to Sessions. And of course Robert Mueller was never fired. What I suspect is most angering to Trump, most humiliating is precisely that these narratives show he never did anything about it. He could have fired McGahn and gotten another White House Counsel. He could have fired Mueller himself. (Some people disagree on this. But as a technical legal/constitutional matter, he could have.) More straightforwardly, like Richard Nixon, he could have fired McGahns and Rosensteins until he found someone who would carry out his orders. But he didn’t. (Revealingly, in the one case of a real firing, he had a letter hand-delivered to James Comey at FBI headquarters when he knew Comey was on a trip to California.)

The image is one of weakness, someone who blusters but is actually surprisingly, paradoxically conflict averse.

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