While you were out celebrating the unofficial start of summer, President Donald Trump was tweeting. From Friday morning until Tuesday morning, Trump sent out 14 – yes, 14! – tweets focused on the ongoing Russia probe.
The tweets – ranging from quotes of supportive voices from Fox News Channel to references to the “13 Angry Democrats” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to allegations of election meddling – illustrate Trump’s near-complete obsessions with the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its impact on his presidency.
What’s remarkable about the tweets – other than the pure number of them – is the similarities between them.
“This whole Russia Probe is Rigged. Just an excuse as to why the Dems and Crooked Hillary lost the Election and States that haven’t been lost in decades. 13 Angry Democrats, and all Dems if you include the people who worked for Obama for 8 years. #SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!”
“Why aren’t the 13 Angry and heavily conflicted Democrats investigating the totally Crooked Campaign of totally Crooked Hillary Clinton. It’s a Rigged Witch Hunt, that’s why! Ask them if they enjoyed her after election celebration!”
There’s a few word changes here and there but, for the most part, this is virtually the same tweet. “Rigged” probe. Thirteen angry Democrats. Why isn’t Hillary being investigated? And, always, lots of exclamation points and CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!!!!
All 14 tweets are, really, just one tweet.
Trump allies might(?) argue that this is simply message discipline. Trump knows that if he repeats something – anything – enough times, there will be a decent chunk of the populace who will believe it. And another chunk who, whether they realize it or not, will allow Trump’s attack lines “witch hunt,” “hoax” and “13 Angry Democrats” to seep into their consciousness and effect the way they regard Muller and his probe.
But I tend to believe that the available evidence from Trump’s 16 months in office is that the only real strategy is there is no real strategy. Or, put another way: The strategy is that Trump says (or tweets) what is on his mind that very second and his White House works to develop a strategy around the thought of the moment.
Given that explanation – and an understanding that Trump’s Twitter feed is the raw and uncut version of what he’s thinking and feeling at any given moment – it’s very clear from this weekend that the Russia probe (and Mueller) is very much on his mind these days.
What Trump’s tweets read like is someone who has fixated on the idea that he is being unfairly persecuted by people who have never liked him and will do anything to keep him from being successful.
He has convinced himself that Mueller, a Republican who was appointed FBI director by a Republican president and who was appointed special counsel by a Republican deputy attorney general, has hired a bunch of Democrats to find dirt on him. That, despite the fact that five people – including his national security adviser and his former deputy campaign chairman – have plead guilty already in the Mueller probe that it is all one big partisan fishing expedition. (Worth noting: In addition to the Republican roots of Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray are both Trump appointees.)
Trump is someone who has regularly embraced conspiracies before; his candidacy for president was birthed, ahem, in the debunked fever swamp rumor that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and during the 2016 campaign, Trump trafficked in ideas ranging from Muslims were celebrating on rooftops on 9/11 to Ted Cruz’s father might be involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
This is who he is and what he does. So, Trump’s Tuesday morning tweet – “The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls. There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!” – is par for the course.
The most revealing tweet in Trump’s fusillade over the past four days came in his last one – for now – dealing with his Russia obsession. Tweeted Trump:
“Sorry, I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more, and not on the Rigged Russia Witch Hunt that should be investigating Clinton/Russia/FBI/Justice/Obama/Comey/Lynch etc.”
There’s a part of him, clearly, that knows putting all of his attention on the Russia probe is distracting him. That his obsession with the idea that Mueller is out to get him – and might even “MEDDLE” in the 2018 midterms – is counterproductive. There’s so much more he needs to work on/pay attention to.
And yet, if we know anything about Trump, it’s that he simply cannot adhere to his own self-admonishment to devote less time to his conspiracy theories about the Russia probe and more time to the actual governance of the country.
Obsessions are fundamentally irrational. Trump’s preoccupation with the Russia investigation won’t be solved via reason alone. Or at all.