Over the last year, many of us have described Donald Trump as someone who lives in his own delusional reality, which constantly feeds the narcissistic needs of his own ego. Nowhere is that case made more powerfully than in a report from the Washington Post about why this president refuses to accept the fact that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real…
But as aides persisted, Trump became agitated. He railed that the intelligence couldn’t be trusted and scoffed at the suggestion that his candidacy had been propelled by forces other than his own strategy, message and charisma.
Told that members of his incoming Cabinet had already publicly backed the intelligence report on Russia, Trump shot back, “So what?” Admitting that the Kremlin had hacked Democratic Party emails, he said, was a “trap.”
With cringe-worthy examples, the report goes on to document the elaborate lengths to which intelligence officials go to avoid addressing the matter with Trump.
Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump’s ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump’s main briefer — a veteran CIA analyst — adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.
“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference — that takes the PDB off the rails,” said a second former senior U.S. intelligence official.
As a result, this administration has done nothing to address the national security threat of continued interference from Moscow because “there is an unspoken understanding within the NSC that to raise the matter is to acknowledge its validity, which the president would see as an affront.”
I don’t believe that our founders ever envisioned the election of a president so mentally unfit for office that he is unable to address a major national security threat because to admit its existence would damage his ego. To be honest, it’s boggling to me that I am actually writing a sentence like that. And yet, here we are.
This situation is compounded by the fact that Trump’s election came during a time when the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress and has previously demonstrated that they are more than willing to take unprecedented steps to put party over country in order to maintain power. When it comes to this particular dereliction of duty on the part of the president, or any other example, they are not likely to take any action to correct the problem.
It is hard for me to imagine how much more of this our country can take over the next three years. I wish I was as optimistic as Frank Rich.
I am also one of those optimists who firmly believes that Donald Trump will look for a White House exit before the end of his first term — whether he’s done in by the Robert Mueller investigation, a desire to rescue his family business and the two relatives in gravest legal jeopardy (son Fredo and son-in-law Jared), or his diet of junk food and Diet Coke.
What we’ve seen from Trump is that the more he is challenged, the more he fights back. The only thing he is interested in accomplishing is to avoid the damage the word “loser” does to his ego. So any exit before the end of his first term would mean forcing him to go—and that will only occur in a blaze of chaos that he himself would ignite. That reality was highlighted by what is perhaps the most startling quote from the report in the Washington Post.
“Who are the three guys in the world he most admires? President Xi [Jinping] of China, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Putin,” one Trump adviser said. “They’re all the same guy.”
Vladimir Putin must be terribly pleased that his efforts were so successful.