Trump has made a series of critical public comments about his attorney general
Everyone, it seems, wants President Donald Trump to keep Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his job. Everyone, that is, except the most important person: Donald John Trump.
In the eight days since Trump began his verbal assault on Sessions – in an interview with The New York Times no less! – the attorney general has received a series of ever-louder defenses from not only the most high profile conservative talking heads in the country but from virtually every Republican senator with whom he once served.
The “holy hell” could come in the form of a real Republican revolt in Congress from Trump. Slippage among Trump’s base who reveres Sessions and his long-held, hard-line immigration views. Further complications in an already very complicated special counsel investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
And lots more implications beyond those three big ones. In the same way that firing then-FBI Director James Comey caused a cataclysm in politics, getting rid of Sessions would cause a similar convulsion – and possibly an even bigger one.
All of which means that Trump just might do it.
Remember that Trump is, at root, three things: 1) A provocateur 2) an outsider and 3) a reality TV producer/star.
On the provocateur front: Trump loves to do the unexpected, loves to zig when other people zag, loves to make people say out loud, “I can’t believe he just did that!?!”
Think back to the 2016 campaign. How many times did Trump say or do something – taking a shot at John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war, calling his opponents “low energy” and “lyin’,” making any number of a series of factually inaccurate comments, the “Access Hollywood” tape – that caused people to predict the immediate end of his campaign? It was literally dozens of times.
And yet, Trump not only persisted – he prospered. He just kept people guessing and wondering – all the way until November 8 when his incredibly unorthodox strategy was proven right.
On the outsider front: Trump’s 2016 win affirmed a belief he has held his entire life – that all of the “elites” and “establishment” types who laughed at him don’t actually know anything. (Remember: The 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner was a seminal moment in the political education of Donald Trump.) In his mind, the elites have never accepted him – in New York or in Washington – and he has succeeded in spite of them.
But even as he became massively rich and even as he was elected president, he never lost that chip on his shoulder. Never lost the feeling that all of the people who allegedly know so much lost to him, the guy who they smirked and snickered behind their sleeves.
To listen to those people – Republicans, Democrats, media – is against Trump’s nature. If they are saying “You can’t fire Jeff Sessions or else!” his natural inclination will be to do the exact opposite.
Then, finally and most importantly, Trump as reality TV producer. Yes, Trump was the star and co-producer of both “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But long before we even had words like “reality TV,” Trump was orchestrating his own image – and managing the Trump brand. Never forget he created an entire person – “John Miller” – to talk up Donald Trump to the New York tabloids!
This is someone who has spent an entire life thinking about how to make the most-watchable product. How to sell. How to not just get eyeballs on you – but keep them.
And Trump knows from his life’s experience that the best way to do all of those things is to build drama and suspense at all times. And then, every once in a while, do something that NO ONE thought you would really do. Or that everyone thinks you shouldn’t do.
Sound familiar? Yeah, to me too.