One Trump Is Bad Enough, But Now We Have Two

Some of the things we’ve learned about Donald Trump are that he is impulsive, thrives on chaos, lies prolifically, is willing to throw anyone who crosses him under the bus, assumes that every challenge is a fight for his life that he has to win, believes that an all-out attack on your opponent is the best defense, and uses the media to manipulate people.

Watching the Giuliani fiasco of the last couple of days, it is now clear that we are getting two Trump’s for the price of one. According to the Washington Post, the strategy behind it all was cooked up by Trump and his doppelgänger without the input of anyone else.

The White House counsel had no idea. Neither did the White House chief of staff, nor the White House press secretary, nor the new White House lawyer overseeing its handling of the Russia investigation.

They watched, agog, as Giuliani, the president’s recently installed personal attorney, freestyled on live television Wednesday night about the president’s legal troubles…

But if Trump was upset with his lawyer’s performance, he did not show it. Indeed, the president was party to hatching the strategy, according to three people involved in the discussions.

Here’s the strategy they came up with:

President Donald Trump and his lawyers have made a strategic calculation that their fight against special counsel Robert Mueller is more political than it is legal.

They’re banking that the lead Russia investigator will follow long-standing Justice Department practice that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and that that the only real threat to Trump’s survival is impeachment.

So long as that theory holds, Trump’s plan is to forcefully challenge Mueller in the arena he knows best — not the courtroom but the media, with a public campaign aimed at the special counsel’s credibility, especially among Republican voters and GOP members of Congress.

“The public strategy has now subsumed the legal strategy,” said a source who has worked with the president’s lawyers. “The public stance is fight, fight, fight. So the legal strategy is now fight, fight, fight.”

The opening gambit on that from Giuliani was a direct assault against former FBI Director James Comey as a “pathological liar” combined with the suggestion that Mueller’s case is based on Comey. For example, Giuliani said, “James Comey seems to be the core of their investigation,” which is a lie.

Who better to implement a strategy like that than someone who has so much in common with the president when it comes to lying, attacking opponents, and creating chaos? According to Andrew Kirtzman, author of Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City, the former NYC mayor has one other thing in common with Trump.

What we are going to witness in the coming days is the spectacle of two unhinged Donald Trumps using the media to lie, create chaos and attack the federal prosecutors who are methodically putting together a case about how the Trump campaign entered into a conspiracy with Russia to influence the election and then obstructed justice to shut down the investigation. At least until the 2018 midterms, the referees in that battle will be congressional Republicans, who have demonstrated that they aren’t going to call any fouls, much less eject anyone from the game. Elections matter.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.