◆ Enough of the Ridicule
◆ Enough of the Investigations
◆ Enough of the Hard Word of Governing
Good foreign trip, but now he’s landed–and so have his troubles
I’m betting that sometime before the midterms, President Donald J. Trump will resign.
Stick with me as I explain why.
While Trump’s tour of the Middle East and Europe was not the “homerun” of which he boasted, it did go surprisingly well, at least on Trumpian terms.
But that’s over now.
Five Congressional Investigations . . . plus a tenacious Special Counsel, Robert Mueller
Pres. Trump returned to the White House on Sunday to face the “I” words—indictment and impeachment, both fueled by a lengthening list of Russia-related leaks and charges. Not only those, but also the dark Nixonian (and Clintonian) phrase, “obstruction of justice.”
He returned to await next week’s public testimony of his fired nemesis, former FBI director Jim Comey—that “nut job,” as Trump described him during an Oval Office meeting in which the commander in chief shared highly classified “code word” info with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador and volunteered that firing Comey relieved “great pressure.”
Now he is stuck obsessing about five congressional probes looking into alleged Russian ties; about subpoenas for Oval Office tapes, about depositions, indictments, anxiety that someone caught in law enforcement’s grip will turn state’s witness and finger Trump—could it be Mike Flynn or Paul Manafort? Was winning favor with Flynn the reason Trump allegedly asked Comey to lay off the former and fired NSA chief. (Trump denies doing so).
Why did Trump ask two other top American intelligence chiefs to tamp down Comey’s Russian collusion probe? For at least one of them, there’s a “contemporaneous” memo.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, III, impeccably ethical FBI head III, and friend of Jim Comey, now charged with looking for criminal behavior, will be sure to study that memo and every other piece of evidence.
The Bad News Will Keep Coming
The bad news stories never stop. Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, the golden boy and presidential favorite—Trump’s senior advisor–could face, thanks to the FBI investigation, public humiliation and, worse yet, indictment. A back channel communication with Russia? What was Jared thinking and why wasn’t he fully forthcoming about his meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
On top of that, yesterday’s news, Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, his self-described “pit-bull,” has received a subpoena for his “testimony, personal documents and business records” from the House Intelligence Committee.
Anyone in Trump’s position would feel some level of self pity, but Trump is known for wallowing in it. “…the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
“No politician in history…has been treated worse or more unfairly.” (That one while delivering the commencement address all about himself to Coast Guard Academy grads.)
Campaigning, now that was fun. Governing, not so much
Trump, my hunch, is back to asking himself, “Who knew that being president would be so hard? So complicated? So much boring work?”
Is he sick and tired of all those embarrassing photos focusing on the protruding belly and hairweave blowing in the wind as he boards Marine One?
Oh for the days when Trump could be Trump.
In the fog of cascading scoops, Trump can’t be Trump, not if he wants to serve his full term, much less run for a second. For Trump, things can only get worse—and that could happen long before 2020.
If the Democrats win the House in 2018, governing will be downright unpleasant
And home cooking will start to look a whole lot better
Take the 2018 midterms: The Democrats take back the House, Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker, and impeachment proceedings commence.
Trump, again my hunch, likely entertains “They’ll be sorry when I’m gone” fantasies as he returns to linger alone in his White House bed; that very bed from which he tweeted a warning to Jim Comey to keep his mouth shut because there could be tapes of their conversations. Who knew that Comey kept detailed, contemporaneous notes of their meetings? Who knew that a special counsel would be reading them? Who even knew that “White House tapes” carried negative connotations and a special place in presidential history.
At those moments, does he grow nostalgic about the campaign trail when he could belittle the policies of Obama and Hillary and make grandiose promises about bringing back “jobs, jobs, jobs” (Oops! Breaking news on Carrier sending jobs to Mexico) and bombing the hell out of ISIS, about building that “beautiful wall” and all the rest of his “drain the swamp” applause lines?.
If I could get inside his head, I hear him getting down to even less lofty thoughts. Why think of affairs of state when I could be thinking about real estate? I hear him telling himself, I’m sick of this rundown White House. I miss my $100 million Trump Tower penthouse. I miss the marble and 24-carat-gold Palace-of-Versailles-inspired décor. I miss my bed, my linens, my pillow, my loyal housekeepers, my valet.
And the Oval Office? The thrill is gone. It’s not CEO-sized and I miss gazing at my Trump Tower office walls festooned with framed magazine covers featuring me. I miss my unfailingly discreet secretary. I miss not having to obsess over leaks. And leave it to Time to report that I insist on two scoops of vanilla ice cream with my chocolate cream pie while everyone else gets one, and that my boy scout vice president requests a fruit plate.
Air Force One? Like the Oval, a thrill the first time, but not nearly as cool as my 757, its leather seats embossed with the Trump family crest.
So long as he remains a resident of 1600, Trump might think, leaked details about his morning cosmetic prep are just a matter of time. The concocted hair, the unnatural stiffness of its several sections: Does he use an aerosol spray? Does Aqua Net still exist? Can Trump claim his very own ozone layer hole?
How long before the “failing” New York Times, likely relying on a leak from some White House staffer, or some other “fake news” source, reports that he skips the daily intelligence brief in favor of reading Breitbart News while his people apply the bronzer and the concealer and the pancake makeup to prepare him for another day in hell?
If he toughs it out, he still could lose a re-election bid
Why not leave on his own terms?
If he sticks it out there’s the indignity, for starters, of not getting a second term. Obama got two; Clinton got two. Not fair. But possible, as financial backers run scared. And Republicans, worried about reelection and rushing to microphones to applaud the appointment of Mueller, are keeping their distance, a few even muttering the “I” (impeachment) word.
And what about those polls that show cracks in his base of support? And the Wall Street Journal editorial page, of all places, hectoring, “Loose Lips Sink Presidencies,” calling the state of his presidency “perpetual turbulence” and calling him “inexperienced” and “impulsive.” And that Politico headline, “Conservatives begin to whisper President Pence.”
On the bright side, he exits the White House on his own terms, Melania at his side, if not holding his much ridiculed hand, barely hiding her relief. He emerges as the most famous man in America, the misunderstood, abused hero who tried to drain the swamp and make America great again, but who was blocked at every turn by the elite in politics and academia and the press.
If he hangs around, he could end up, like Richard Nixon, shamed, shunned and on the precipice of impeachment, having to accept a pardon from his VP. Does Trump understand the difference between himself and Nixon; that the late President might have been a crook, but he was also an intellectual, and, in forced retirement, a wise man on international politics? For Trump, another reality TV show, just not one filmed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, awaits.
Carol Felsenthal is much-published author. Besides a long list of magazine credits, she has written a number of acclaimed biographies:
- Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant,
- Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story,
- Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and
- Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, a look at Bill Clinton’s post presidency
She is also a contributing writer for Chicago Magazine and the political blogger for their website, Chicagomag.com.
She has taught biographical writing at the University of Chicago and written profiles of everyone from Ann Landers to Michelle Obama.