|DOUG MILLS / THE NEW YORK TIMES|
Donald Trump is nothing if predictable. He is reliably narcissistic, paranoid, borderline adolescent and a pathological liar who is unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, all traits that of course make him especially unsuited to be president. And so it was inevitable that as the flames of the Russia scandal lick ever hotter at the heels of his Guccis he would begin laying the groundwork for another of his most predicable traits: Shifting responsibility to others and then abandoning them to save his own sorry ass as he has done repeatedly over the years when business deals built on his houses of cards collapse and he finds himself in jeopardy.
Although it did not get the attention it deserved -- at least it hasn't yet -- Trump and his very special scandal turned a significant corner on Thursday when he yet again whined that he is the victim of a "witch hunt," but for the first time added that "I cannot speak for others."
This is Trump Code for distancing himself from associates (he has no friends, so they're always associates) who had contacts with Russians with more than a casual interest in Vladimir Putin's brilliant plan to turn American democracy on its ear by sabotaging the Hillary Clinton campaign.
It is Trump's hope that as these associates lawyer up and hunker down in anticipation of being flambeed -- with lengthy investigations, plea bargains in return for ratting him out and possibly even criminal trials as the logical next steps -- he can escape the ignominy of early retirement by disassociating himself from the very conspiracy he embraced and the co-conspirators he so enthusiastically aided and abetted.
Pathetic, isn't it?
The timing of Trump's tacit admission that there is something to that Russia scandal thingie but it doesn't involve his virginal self comes as his latest house of cards -- the Fawlty Towers of presidencies with all the pratfalls but not nearly as many laughs -- threatens to collapse.§
Trump's wounds are always self inflicted, and there have been some lulus in the past week and change since the biggest of them all -- his summary firing of FBI Director James Comey.
That pretense lasted for about as long as it took for the ink to dry on Deputy AG Ron Rosenstein's reverse-engineered "legal opinion" written at Trump's behest on why Comey should go.
In short order, Rosenstein threatened to resign because he realized Trump has used him, Trump met with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador and boasted about highly classified information about ISIS, Comey's replacement told Congress that Trump was full of excrement and vowed that the FBI's probe would continue, Trump issued a veiled threat to Comey not to become leak happy and indicated he may have tapes of their conversations, Comey indicated a willingness to testify before Congress but only if it is in public, Trump contradicted his aides and acknowledged that the Russia scandal was the real reason Comey was sacked, Rosenstein named Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee Justice's Russia investigation, Reuters reported that FBI and congressional investigators say fired national security director Michael Flynn and other Trump campaign advisers were in contact with Russians on at least 18 occasions during the last seven months of the presidential race, Trump denied Comey's assertion that he pressured him to drop his investigation of Flynn, Flynn himself indicated that he would not honor a Senate intel committee subpoena, The Washington Post reported that a senior White House adviser close to Trump is a "significant person of interest" to investigators, and the Watergate-Russia scandal comparisons began flying hot and heavy.
"What we are witnessing," wrote Chris Cillizza of Trump's peregrinations on why he axed Comey, "is a rare political feat. The flip, flop, re-flip and possible re-flop."
Trump's Come To Geez moment and the maelstrom swirling around him takes us only a little bit closer to what we so fervently wish: An end to the unrelenting fear that rules our lives (Are we at war yet, Daddy?) and the way his evil craziness has indelibly colored our country and culture.§
That would be impeachment or a forced resignation, while Mueller's appointment actually takes us further away from appointment of a special prosecutor. Mueller is a special counsel and there is a big difference. You can look it up.
But we can take some solace that, in the meantime, the domestic agenda of Trump and congressional Republicans, to the extent they overlap, is effectively on hold. And that some Republicans are trying out saying "President Mike Pence" while they soap their butt cracks in the shower in the morning to see how that feels.
And Trump is leaving the country for a few days. After all, what trouble could he get us in while overseas?
On second thought . . .
Click HERE for a timeline of the Russia scandal.