Is Trump behaving like Don Quixote? - opinion

Trump is frantically fighting to keep a job he doesn’t like, doesn’t do, doesn’t understand and can’t handle. He won’t admit it publicly, but he knows he lost. (photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
(photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
Top administration officials, including those hoping to get an early start on 2024 presidential runs or to line up contacts and clients for their post-Trump lives, are heading out of town as fast as possible – some to Israel. And that’s not surprising. With their more-volatile-than-usual boss in meltdown, the Oval Office is looking more like the OK Corral than the seat of the presidency. Signs of the presidential disintegration are everywhere.
The failed, impeached and embittered president has been talking about appointing conspiracy theorist and wacko attorney Sidney Powell as special prosecutor to investigate how Joe Biden “stole” the election. Her client, the discredited former national security council adviser and confessed felon Mike Flynn, was there urging the president to declare martial law and order an election do-over. Also on the president’s agenda was naming a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden.
That was too much even for Attorney-General Bill Barr, who is best known as personal attorney for this president than for the country. In his final press conference two days before leaving office, Barr committed a cardinal sin in Trumpworld by telling the truth. There was no “systematic or broad-based” election fraud, Biden’s victory was legit, special counsels to investigate the election or Hunter Biden are unnecessary, and Russia, not China, is behind the massive intelligence hack.
Trump is frantically fighting to keep a job he doesn’t like, doesn’t do, doesn’t understand and can’t handle. He won’t admit it publicly, but he knows he lost. That’s painfully obvious in his zeal to poison the well for his successor; he’s even talking about holding a rally on January 20 to compete with the inauguration.
He has monumental matters on his mind. Like which airport, aircraft carrier and mountain he’d like to have named after him. He already has a Potemkin village with his name on it in the Golan Heights. Considering his contribution to the environment, a hazardous waste dump might be more appropriate, or the virus that his ineptitude and disinterest contributed to the deaths of a quarter-million Americans.
Trump is having trouble accepting that more than 80 million Americans voted against him, but he can find some solace in that he has never been so popular among the nation’s criminal class. He has been inundated with requests for pardon requests and has a list of his own.
Leading candidates are said to be his family members. He is reportedly planning to issue blanket pardons for his two adult sons, his favorite daughter and her husband.
There are downsides for them, especially if they really have done nothing wrong, as they insist. Pardons are only for past federal crimes, and under a 1915 Supreme Court ruling, acceptance of a presidential pardon “amounts to a legal admission of guilt,” according to constitutional expert Ken Gormley.
Moreover, a federal pardon will not protect them at the state level, notably New York, where several investigations of the family business and their roles are ongoing.
Trump has suggested he might pardon himself as well. That would also amount to an admission of guilt, but that may be all it does, since the courts would likely declare it unconstitutional. Richard Nixon wanted to do it, but his own Justice Department nixed it, citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.”
And since the pardon, however obtained, would constitute an acknowledgment of guilt, Gormley said, “Trump’s legacy would be forever tarnished” and the pardons would taint him and his children if and when they decide to run for political office.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, is said to be pressing hard for his own pardon. He may not deserve it since, more than anyone other than Trump himself, Giuliani is responsible for the president’s impeachment.
Blackmailing the president of Ukraine to get his help in smearing Joe Biden by attacking his surviving son backfired; both lawyer and client proved to be slow learners, so they tried targeting Hunter Biden again this year during the presidential campaign.
Now Giuliani is heading Trump’s chronically inept and unsuccessful legal team challenging the election outcome. Their fact-free assault on reality has been rejected almost unanimously, including by judges appointed by Trump himself, including one whom he nominated with that in mind: Amy Coney Barrett.
Trump’s post-presidency will be marked by an obsession with revenge, attempts at sabotaging his successor, and monetizing his presidency.
He will try to match Ronald Reagan’s $1 million for a single speech in Japan the year he left the White House, and sign a book deal for a memoir that libraries will have to put in the fiction section.
In addition to speeches, he’s expected to continue holding the rallies he enjoys, but now charging admission and selling his MAGA swag. He’s even spoken of starting his own cable network.
National security and intelligence experts fear he may try selling the nation’s secrets, intentionally or ineptly, in the form of “analysis” or just his well-known penchant for boasting about how much he knows.
He’s done it more than once. To show off for Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, where dessert was “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake,” he boasted of authorizing airstrikes against Syria during dinner. He revealed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s secret meetings with North Korea and boasted to Bob Woodward about a new secret nuclear weapon. He has had access to secrets that are worth trillions of dollars to America’s adversaries.
He gave Israeli secrets to the Russian foreign minister during an Oval Office meeting early in his presidency, resulting in American intelligence officials advising their Israeli (and presumably other) counterparts to be careful what they tell Trump. Throughout, he’s been careful to make sure no one knows what was said in his private meetings with Vladimir Putin or Kim Jung Un. He probably feels the Saudis owe him big for helping the crown prince get away with murder in Adnan Khashoggi’s disappearance
His deference to Putin has for years raised questions about what the Russians might have on him. His well-known loose lips endanger our allies as well as our own interests. Particularly critical is protecting intelligence sources and methods.
That came to the fore again this week with news of the most serious security breach in recent memory, which Pompeo, Barr and intelligence officials in and out of government as well as informed congressional sources attributed to Russia. After days of silence, Trump tweeted that he was “fully briefed” on the subject and doubted Russian involvement. It “may be China,” he said.
Of course, he has more important things on his mind than that. He’s tilting at the windmills of election fraud.
The writer is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC. He is a Capitol Hill veteran who served as a senior adviser to Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal of New York and a legislative assistant for Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey.