Everyone s unfair to Donald Trump. Just ask him.
Despite being president of the United states, a self-declared billionaire many times over, a champion of grabbing media attention and master of the Republican Party, Trump is a victim in his own eyes. The meanies who are after him now are the Democrats in Congress and you can bet he s going to whine about it from now until Election Day in 2020.
As House Democrats debate the ramifications of impeaching Trump -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems especially hesitant -- they seem to be overlooking the obvious: Trump is going to play the victim no matter what they do.
With this in mind, they would be better off proceeding to impeachment. At least then they can deny him the chance to claim that, in backing off, House Democrats proved they were never serious in the first place.
He s so good at this "heads I win, tails you lose" game that anyone who opposes him must refuse to play along by sticking to the task at hand and ignoring the politics. For the House, this means taking a serious approach to Trump s obstruction of justice, including his many refusals to respond to congressional requests for information.
Based on evidence already made public by former special counsel Robert Mueller, and on the administration s sweeping refusal to respond to House subpoenas, the impeachment of Trump for what the Constitution refers to as "high crimes and misdemeanors" seems an inevitability.
One of the most egregious examples of an impeachable offense arose when Trump asked his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller s investigation. It s hard to imagine a more direct attempt to obstruct justice than this request.
With Lewandowski set to testify before the House committee this week, the President offered a preemptive Twitter strike that reveals his own anxiety.
"They failed on the Mueller Report, they failed on Robert Mueller s testimony, they failed on everything else, so now the Democrats are trying to build a case that I enrich myself by being President. Good idea, except I will, and have always expected to, lose BILLIONS of DOLLARS."
Consistent with the Trump s oft-used "no obstruction" and "witch hunt" claims, the idea that he will lose "BILLIONS OF DOLLARS" as he serves in the White House is offered without a scintilla of fact. Indeed, in order to prove he is losing money Trump would have to release verified financial information, like, say, his tax returns, and everyone knows he will not do so.
The facts will continue to work against Trump when it comes to Mueller, who found ample evidence of Trump s wrongdoing. And as the House Judiciary Committee begins its impeachment investigation, it is almost certain to corroborate the former special counsel s findings. When it comes to the law and political dynamics, Trump s protests should be read as a signal that Congress must proceed.
As the President has freely admitted, whining is among his favorite methods for responding to difficult situations. In 2015 he told CNN, "I am a whiner, and I keep whining and whining until I win." Another way to look at it is that Trump thinks everyone who opposes him is unfair and that when he seems in danger of losing any contest it s because the rules are rigged.
Everyone knows that Trump complained about the unfairness of presidential politics, saying "the system is rigged," until he won in 2016. But do you know that he also believed that the annual Primetime Emmy Awards was "rigged" because his show, "The Apprentice," never won? In 2013 he tweeted, "I should have many Emmys for the Apprentice, if the process were fair."
In 2014 he added the Academy Awards to his beefing with the tweet that asked, "Which is worse and which is more dishonest -- the Oscars or the Emmys?" (You might recall that 2014 was the year when Trump also bullied actress Kim Novak with remarks about her appearance.)
As the gravest action imaginable when it comes to national politics, the impeachment of a president is far more serious than any showbiz award. But as Trump s behavior suggests, he will counter it with the same technique, challenging the integrity of anyone who goes against him.
Among House Democrats, a go-slow faction noted that articles of impeachment would likely be defeated in a GOP-controlled Senate and wants to wait for a groundswell of public support before acting. This concern puts politics first, and places Democrats in the position of playing Trump s game.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler seems to have opted for another choice. Monday, while talking to WNYC, he stressed the principles -- and not the politics -- at stake, saying:
"We have to show that this kind of behavior -- trashing the Constitution, trashing all the norms which guarantee democratic government, aggrandizing power to the presidency and destroying the separation of powers and thereby leading the President to become more and more of a tyrant -- cannot be tolerated. ... That s why the impeachment is necessary, even if we cannot get a vote in the Senate."
Indeed, the better way for Democrats to respond to Trump s challenge to their integrity is to act with integrity and then let the American people judge the outcome for themselves.