Donald Trump is “convinced” that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a plot to delegitimize him only to the extent that he needs to be convinced, as a matter of self-preservation. Trump needs the investigation to be a partisan hit job intent on delegitimizing him or else he’ll be forced to face damning truths about his core illegitimacy—terrifying fuel for his crushing insecurities.
The truth is Trump knows he did not legitimately win the presidency, knows he had assistance from Russia (with his eager and willing consent) and, now that he’s actually “won” and actually is president, that knowledge gnaws away at him. Late at night, while the country sleeps, doubts plague him and he sinks into the emptiness of a victory not earned by merit. He’s president now, but he can’t enjoy it, because he knows he didn’t earn it legitimately.
He has the Pyrrhic victory all cheaters achieve, only most cheaters enjoy the ill-gotten benefits of getting ahead, getting into a better school via a better GPA or a better job with more money, etc. Meanwhile, all Trump gained from accepting Russian help was a presidency he never actually wanted, not beyond the ratings-oriented “everyone’s has to look at me now” trappings of the office. There’s no actual payoff this time to soothe. Only hard, actual work.
The last thing in the world Trump wants is for the world to find out what he knows in his heart: that he’s a fraud. President Fraud. He knows this deep down and spends his waking hours putting as much distance from this truth as possible. The thought of the world finding out his secret terrifies him, while knowledge that Mueller is closing in drives his fear into masked panic. It doesn’t help matters that he knows damned well there’s something for Mueller to find.
So when Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker write that Trump is convinced Mueller’s out to get him, it’s because Trump knows there’s something to get. He’s convinced its an unjust conspiracy because he needs it to be. That the Mueller investigation is burrowing in on Trump’s fraudulent “secret” might be the biggest concern we all face.
Ask yourself what wouldn’t Trump do to avoid the confrontation between his “strong” projected self and his internal unworthiness and core illegitimacy. The answer is nothing. There’s nothing Trump won’t do to prevent, at whatever cost, the exposure to the whole world of his fraudulent self, specifically including firing Bob Mueller the same day he orders the invasion of North Korea.
Worse of all, Trump would have no qualms at throwing democracy into the wood chipper if it would save him. It already rankles him; its against his instincts. And conveniently enough, authoritarian rule is the fastest—perhaps the only—way out of this for him.
So here it is then. We’ve arrived at the precipice. (A first one, at least.) The temptation to go full authoritarian has grown as the noose tightens and options evaporate. Trump’s time is running out, and our institutions have no ready response.
Meanwhile the reckless goons at FoxNews relentlessly urge him over the cliff. FoxNews has been generally despicable for years, and wannabe State TV since the election. Now they’re cranking up the crazy.
Name any figure, other than Trump himself, that FoxNews couldn’t unleash the hounds upon and, by changing the public perceptions of the captivated 35%, bring down in a few incessant weeks.
Right now, they’re pulling that stunt with Robert Mueller, whose Republican credentials are unimpeachable and whose integrity was beyond question until the investigation started to get uncomfortably close to Trump himself. Now FoxNews has him as one of the central figures in Hillary’s pizza parlor child sex ring. Hannity tonight will be “breaking” the story of how Mueller and Comey dug out the basement at Comet Ping-Pong with a matching set of “I’m With Her”-engraved shovels.
This is one of Trump’s authoritarian dreams played out right in front of us: control of the media. Control of information. Power over truth itself. Trump and FoxNews use each other to run a feedback loop—Fox & Friends feeding Trump narratives, then Trump parroting it back, which Fox then reports as “news,” and they’re off to the races.
And they’re getting better at it. They’re getting good at it. No so good as to convince a majority of Americans, but they persuade just enough lemmings to scare the GOP politicians into inaction for fear of being primaried, and thus wield real power.
Make no mistake about it. Trump is guilty—of likely far more than we’re yet aware; this goes deep—and he knows it. So does Muller now, and he’s rapidly collating the elements of proof. The Mueller team is close enough that Trump can hear the footsteps now, and with the threat of exposure of his inner fraud, and FoxNews (and some GOP lawmaker cranks) egging him on, the threat to democracy has never been greater.
Ever since that fateful day in May when Trump hosted Kisliyak and Labrov in the Oval, America has been adrift in a corrupt, ersatz democratic ether, untethered. Today—right now—actual authoritarianism is on our doorstep. When it comes in, it won’t bother to knock. It’ll let itself in. Or in this case, Trump is poised to open the door himself.
Anything to avoid the exposure of his inner fraud.