Donald Trump has to know. He has to know that he's in deep trouble. I mean, he can't really believe the court memos that dropped on Friday actually cleared him, can he?
Between the time at which the explosive Michael Cohen sentencing memo went public and the time at which the Paul Manafort memo went public on Friday, the president inexplicably tweeted, "Totally clears the President. Thank you!" No, none of it does. Not a single word.
As we all know by now, the memos don't totally clear anyone. In fact, the Cohen memo in particular is perhaps the most scathing non-indictment indictment of Trump so far. Among other things, we learned that Cohen provided to Robert Mueller's team of untouchables information specific to whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and we learned that Trump directed Cohen to make secret payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, done so in order to influence the outcome of the election, rendering the payoffs as illegal campaign contributions.
How the hell does either document totally clear the president?
Obviously, Trump's tweet was bullshit, but it's difficult to know whether he lied again or whether he was somehow misinformed. One possible answer can be derived from numerous accounts that've reported how the president doesn't read anything. In fact, he's occasionally bragged about how he doesn't require any information to make decisions because his gut is better than whatever "anybody else's brain can ever tell" him. Therefore, it's entirely possible he was merely briefed on the content of the memos, and the briefer clearly left out the scathing headlines, perhaps out of fear Trump would throw a temper tantrum.
In other words, he might not even know about the gigantic anvil dangling over his head, with the rope holding it growing a little more frayed with the emergence of these memos.
Again, though, how could he not know? Would his legal team deliberately withhold publicly-released information from him, knowing he doesn't read anything? I find that hard to believe. Yeah, I know he's an idiot and a liar, but is he this much of a misinformed boob that he doesn't want to hear bad news from his staff? He has to know.
This has to be a case of Trump continuing to play the pitch-man, constantly marketing the best possible interpretations of events to his people, applying shiny happy spin to otherwise horrible news. We know the president always lies in pursuit of ballyhooing his viewpoint on events, so much so that fact-checkers at The Washington Post announced on Monday that they've added a new "Pinocchio" ranking category called the "Bottomless Pinocchio."
But at what point does the pitch man become the crazy man? When does his penchant for framing himself as the greatest and best at everything -- and innocent of all accusations, no less -- disintegrate into being merely the delusional rantings of a man who's sundowning into the withering grips of senile dementia, or worse?
It's one thing for a TV commercial to make outrageous claims about products that we're under no obligation to purchase. It's another thing entirely for the president, with whom we're stuck, to so clearly misrepresent facts and reality that we have no choice but to wonder whether his Trump Cheese is sliding off his Trump Crackers. (Trump Cheese and Trump Crackers are trademarks of the Trump Organization, probably.)
Making matters even more deranged, Trump seems to think his bizarre spinning of these criminal investigations on Twitter will somehow derail the process. I suppose he rightfully believes the opinions of his rally fanboys and Fox News viewers will exonerate and protect him from the rule of law. Uh, no. That's not how any of this works.
Sure, Trump's nonsense has already convinced a certain segment of the voting population that, heaven help us, the Mueller investigation is a "witch hunt." These are cultists who will defend Trump even if he were to go on television and confess to everything. Yet their delusions have zero bearing on the rule of law, especially now that it appears the prosecution of the Trump Crime Family is underway. Maybe this denialism approach will undermine the public acceptance of the outcome, but there will be outcomes nonetheless, irrespective of whether Fox News viewers think it's all a big nothingburger.
Every now and then it occurs to me that the president, half of Congress, a cable news network, most of the AM radio dial, and around 60 million voters are profoundly delusional, literally lying to themselves, each other, and everyone they know. And they all have matching hats. As scary as that might be, the Department of Justice doesn't care. I'm grateful to report that, so far, the institutions of justice in this country appear to be enduring despite the Trump crisis. No amount of spin, and no amount of ridiculous tweets will change that.