There's no way to know for sure, but it seems like Donald Trump is increasingly disconnected from reality. Specifically, I don't get the sense he fully understands how blindingly real his legal jeopardy is. In fact, around 35 percent of American voters are just as deluded as their traitorous false god, if not more so.
It's not a stretch to suggest that Trump continues to operate under the misapprehension that he can just scream away the Russia investigation; that as long as he continues to heap lie upon lie about it, he'll somehow exonerate himself. Either that, or, as time wears on and his self-incriminated shithole grows deeper, he's beginning to believe his own lies. It happens. Crooks often convince themselves they've done nothing wrong and will swear up and down that they're innocent while everyone listening can easily spot the guilt from a thousand miles out.
Many of us have been seeing exactly that, even while being relentlessly gas-lit about it. We've witnessed with eyes open what happened in Helsinki; what happened in the cabinet room when Trump repeated obvious Russia propaganda about Afghanistan; we've read the stories and official documents about sanctions being mysteriously rolled back; we've witnessed the president acting as the world's biggest Putin apologist while daily condemning the FBI and otherwise well-reputed Americans.
Naturally, we also absorbed the shocking news this weekend in The Washington Post that Trump routinely and personally destroys evidence of his chats with Putin.
Is this the behavior of an innocent man? Really?
Reporting and official documents have been so plentiful that Trump's guilt is as obvious as a heart attack. But it's Trump's behavior, almost as much as the volumes of reporting, that's been clearly telegraphing his guilt. He simply doesn't act like an innocent man. Like porn, most of us know guilt when we see it, and even early on, those of us who observed Trump's life before politics know that he's as crooked as his hairline. Being a flimflam artist is what he does. It's what he's always done. Anyone who believes otherwise hasn't been watching.
This is exactly why, when the biggest story of the Russia saga so far dropped late on Friday courtesy of The New York Times, I stared at it for a second wondering what was new about it. But, duh, then it occurred to me.
Lost in the constant white noise of the fire hose of news was the frustrating reality that we hadn't yet seen a major publication report about any official FBI counterintelligence probes into Trump's terrifyingly pro-Russia posture beyond mere collusion with the 2016 attack. We've seen a lot of stories about the president's men, but not necessarily the president in these terms -- there definitely wasn't any solid reporting showing Robert Mueller's team of untouchables has been looking into Trump's obvious flacking for Moscow.
Speaking for myself, I just took it as a given: Trump is an agent of the Kremlin who was fingered long ago by Putin as a potential asset who could be easily manipulated to adopt a pro-Russia agenda -- perhaps in politics if not via his social media feeds and his celebrity status. His behavior as well as the work of national security experts like Malcolm Nance, David Corn, and Rachel Maddow had already filled in many of the blanks confirming our worst suspicions, even if the Times and the Post hadn't yet locked down enough sources to provide a paper-of-record smoking gun along these lines.
The Times piece stands as perhaps the most damaging block of information to be published to date, topping the mind-blowing details of the Michael Cohen sentencing memo in terms of direct and catastrophic legal jeopardy for the president. Never in the history of the republic has a president been suspected by federal investigators of acting as an agent of a hostile foreign power, especially while that foreign power was/is in the midst of a war (cyber, cold, hot, or miscellaneous) against the United States.
And yet Trump thinks he can escape this rapidly tightening bear trap of his own making.
Despite what he believes, being ignorant to his own peril, his only viable option is to resign and to be pardoned by Mike Pence. Short of that, his options grow vastly worse. Even if he takes extraordinary measures to abuse his executive authority by shutting down the investigation and pardoning himself, at least half of Congress still operates independently and would surely hold him accountable to an extent. And there are the potential state-level prosecutions.
As I've been repeating for years: Trump always makes things worse for Trump. He will continue to stubbornly and stupidly refuse serious advice, and he'll continue to blurt self-incriminating tweets and soundbites until he's dragged from the office, screaming and spitting and tweeting. That'll all go down while his name and his brand are permanently rendered into poison.
While we contemplate whether justice will be served here, and whether Trump fully grasps how badly he's fucked, one thing remains a certainty: our president isn't acting in America's best interest. He never has. Trump's master is in Moscow. His first loyalty beyond his own brand is to Putin.
I've also been saying that as Trump's fate worsens, so will his behavior. This hasn't happened before so the path to true justice is unclear, and until the aforementioned dragging occurs, it could get seriously ugly knowing Trump's tendency to immolate any democratic norms standing in his way.
Hang on tight, folks...