As Impeachment Gets Closer, Trump Becomes Even More Unhinged

Despite denials and dismissals, it is clear that being an impeached President is getting under Trump's skin.

As the House debates the Articles of Impeachment against him, Politico reports that the President is consumed by what is unfolding before him:

Real estate mogul, billionaire, reality show host, late-night show punch line, populist rabble rouser, norm-busting leader — impeached president.

Beyond the immediate ramifications of the all-but-certain outcome of this week’s vote, impeachment will always be attached to President Donald Trump. Years from now, it will be one of the first things students are taught about the 45th president.

It’s a reality that has tormented past presidents who faced the prospect of impeachment. In the days before his resignation, President Richard Nixon confessed to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger his fears that Watergate would define his legacy. President Bill Clinton fretted behind closed doors about how history books would paint him, even as he projected a dismissive attitude in public.

“For Trump, now impeachment will appear in the opening paragraph of his life,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

Outwardly, Trump characteristically swats away any suggestion that such questions weigh on his mind. “No, not at all,” Trump said earlier this month, shaking his head when asked if he was worried about the potential stain impeachment will have on his legacy. “It’s a hoax, it’s a hoax, it’s a big fat hoax.”

But Trump’s pugilistic insistence belies a longstanding fixation on his personal image and the legitimacy of his presidency.

From the day he sent Sean Spicer out to harangue journalists over the crowd size at his inauguration, Trump has waged a three-year campaign to wear down any doubts about his right to occupy the Oval Office. He set up — and then quietly abandoned — a panel to investigate his specious claims that only voter fraud kept him from winning the popular vote in 2016. He publicly sowed doubts about Russia’s election-year meddling.

For White House visitors, reporters — anyone really — he constantly pulled out the red-saturated map detailing how districts voted in 2016.
The common theme: I deserve to be here. I earned this.

“Obsessed” is how one former White House official described Trump’s mindset about how people will remember him. Trump, the ex-official said, has told people around him that impeachment would leave his presidency “tainted.”

“His image is hugely important to him,” the former official said. “He is going crazy over this because the legacy he is looking for is the greatest president — even more so than Abraham Lincoln or George Washington.”

Instead, his name will now be included on another short list of presidents — those attached to impeachment. It’s an ignominious group that includes Andrew Johnson, remembered for his refusal to ensure racial equality and voting rights for African-Americans after the Civil War, Richard Nixon, who resigned before being impeached but nonetheless caused generations of Americans to lose faith in government, and Bill Clinton, who has remained popular but is facing a reassessment of his impeachment legacy in the #MeToo era.

“Donald Trump understands the same thing as the progressive left — his presidency is transformative and historic,” said Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist. “He also understands that his opponents have even more hatred for him than Nixon and Clinton’s had for them. He takes this very seriously because he takes his place in history very seriously — and he knows that this is going to matter today and 100 years from now.”

The evidence for the President’s fixation can best be seen in the President’s tweets today:

This kind of ranting by the President isn’t surprising, of course, and we got a good preview of it in the form of the letter that the President sent to Speaker Pelosi yesterday. It’s also been apparent in his rhetoric and ranting from the start of this scandal and, most of all, from the start of the impeachment process itself. Increasingly, the President has become obsessive, short-tempered, and even more vindictive and vile than he has been in the past. If anything, that’s only likely to increase as impeachment moves forward today and he comes to realize that this will be a blot on his record for eternity.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    and he comes to realize that this will be a blot on his record for eternity.

    Don’t worry donald, no one will be able to differentiate the blot of impeachment from the blot of your record. It’s all gonna be one big blot.

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  2. Kathy says:

    I tend to ignore Trump because what he says is either wrong, stupid, a lie, irrelevant, crazy, cruel, and now just the empty rage of a man devoid of self-esteem.

    His Tweets are really pathetic. One would feel pity if El Cheeto wasn’t so cruel and contemptible. As it is, one feels ashamed to belong to the same biological species as this sorry specimen.

    As for his legacy, he need not worry. I will reveal it now:

    Donald Trump, Utter Failure.

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  3. @OzarkHillbilly:

    You have a point there

  4. Kathy says:

    BTW, you know what’s really funny? I admit to a bit of hindsight, but if he wasn’t so intent on putting people down, so desirous of praise that he has to pander to his base day and night, so hungry for Putin’s ass, and possessed a hint of common sense and a microscopic sliver of tact, he’d be rather popular now.

    Not hugely popular, because his policies are still terrible. but the economy has remained rather good, no new wars have erupted (though that surrender at Syria, sheesh!), and even the photo op summits could be spun, in a more restrained fashion, as “good.” So he’d be above 50%, maybe closing in on 60%

    Of course, then he’d be someone else. despicable, yes, but not an object of ridicule. Like Ted Cruz, perhaps, or Moscow Mitch. Terrible, yes, but not a global embarrassment and national nightmare.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    He’s seething. He can’t just declare bankruptcy to escape this time.

    He’s playing for survival, we’re playing for history. The best outcome of this sad chapter in American history is if Trump inoculates the country against another Trump. Democratic candidates should be talking a bit about reform to keep another disordered head case from screwing the government.

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  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Now THIS is the Donald J. Trump that I remember. Paranoid, petulant, seething and obsessing over imagined grudges, utterly incapable of anything resembling multivariate thinking.

    I knew – KNEW – that he would be incapable of doing the one thing that he should be doing right now, namely shutting up and trying to look presidential. I’ve been gleefully awaiting that letter and today’s Twitter screeds. He didn’t fail to deliver.

    (NB – I’ve been told by multiple folks up on the Hill that he has been calling GOP sycophants on both sides of the Capitol and ranting at the top of his lungs all. fricking. day. It makes my heart sing 😀 )

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  7. EddieInCA says:

    Through all this, I’ve been amazed by one thing and one thing only….. How many former “sane” GOP members have gone full #Cult45. Andy McCarthy wrote a book, seriously, titled “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment”, yet he has faithfully defended Trump every single step of the way, including ignoring his many actual, literal, crimes. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, John Thune. These were all people who called Trump, a “con man”, a “grifter”, a “liar”, “untrustworthy”, yet now they support EVERYTHING he does.

    Words I never thought I’d say, “Judge Napolitano, on Fox, has Intellectual Honesty”. Same with Bill Kristol, Charlie Sykes, Charlie Dent, David Jolly, Peter Wehner, and other movement conservatives.

    At this point, it’s no longer about Trump. It’s about the Senators and House members afraid of the 41%, who will never turn.

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  8. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Nice to hear from you, missed your 2 cents

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  9. Mister Bluster says:

    Paranoid, petulant, seething and obsessing over imagined grudges, utterly incapable of anything resembling multivariate thinking.

    I thought that when I won (the election) I would go to the Oval Office, sit down at my desk, and there would be a healthcare bill on my desk, to be honest. And it hasn’t worked out that way. And I think a lot of Republicans are embarrassed by it.
    President Pud

    Apparently the Republicans weren’t embarrassed enough as they defend this chump.
    Not that I would expect any less from the craven toadies.

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  10. senyordave says:

    @Kathy: His Tweets are really pathetic. One would feel pity if El Cheeto wasn’t so cruel and contemptible. As it is, one feels ashamed to belong to the same biological species as this sorry specimen.
    Well stated. I should feel worse since I am a white male and theoretically more like him than you are (but I am Jewish so a lot of Trump supporters probably don’t consider me white).
    There is literally nothing that could happen that would make me feel sorry for or pity Donald Trump. And that includes some pretty awful things.

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  11. steve says:

    One of the comedians from last night broke me up with their take on condolence cards from the White House while Trump is in office. “We are sorry for your loss, which was bad but not nearly bad as the loss Hillary suffered when I crushed her with the biggest electoral vote ever, 304-227.” Rough paraphrase. Wish I could find the Youtube.

    Steve

  12. Kathy says:

    @senyordave:

    There is literally nothing that could happen that would make me feel sorry for or pity Donald Trump. And that includes some pretty awful things.

    Do you know why Trump’s coffin will have holes drilled into it? So maggots can step outside to throw up.

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  13. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Mister Bluster: That quote of Trump’s one of the few things that makes me sympathize with him. He really *IS* an idiot who fell for the propaganda the right wing noise machine has been churning out for decades. I dislike just about everything I’ve seen from him, but he’s not the actual problem – he’s the symptom of what happens when you’ve allowed brainwashing in the news for literally decades at this point. And getting rid of him–as much as I’d like to–isn’t going to stop Hannity and Carlson and the rest from continuing to poison this country.

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  14. Kathy says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Actually, I don’t think that was an unreasonable expectation, given how the GOP spent six years saying “repeal and replace.” Given these people are politicians and legislators, you’d think there would have been a bill in the works, almost ready to go, as soon as Obama ended his second term. Or, if not an actual drafted bill, then at least a consensus within the party on what to do, even if the drafting and some horse trading was still pending.

    Of course, the propaganda might include that the republicans in the House and Senate are legislators.

  15. Scott F. says:

    “His image is hugely important to him,” the former official said. “He is going crazy over this because the legacy he is looking for is the greatest president — even more so than Abraham Lincoln or George Washington.”

    Holy Cow! That’s some Grade A delusion right there.

  16. Pres Comacho says:

    Any go fundme sites for building a Mount Rushmoresque monument for Donald the Trump? As long as I can pick the location and inscription; I’d pay.

  17. CSK says:

    Trump is holding a Merry Christmas rally in Battle Creek this evening to assuage his wounded feelings. Feeling the love, I suppose.

    No kidding; he’s calling it a Merry Christmas rally.

  18. Mister Bluster says:

    …a Mount Rushmoresque monument for Donald the Trump?

    I’m sure you can find a site along the Ural Mountain range that would be suitable.
    Someplace where Putin can look out his window and laugh and laugh and laugh!

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  19. Kathy says:

    @Scott F.:

    Wow. I missed that bit.

    I suppose he could. he says he has money. So:

    1) Apply the Aladdin Principle: If I was that rich, I could afford to buy some manners.
    2) Extend the principle and buy character, honesty, competence, intelligence, vision,eloquence, patience, etc.
    3) Enroll in high school and take a civics class (or whatever the class is that teaches about the basic structure and functioning of government)
    4) Buy at least one biography of Lincoln. perhaps that will make you change your mind. he would not have called neo nazis “fine people.”
    5) Read the Gettysburg address.
    6) Get one of your high school buddies to explain it to you (do not worry, you’ll have plenty of buddies in high school if you pay for their hamberders; as long as you don’t call them “hamberders.”)
    7) Fire your whole cabinet and ask someone smarter than you to recommend a new one.
    8) Travel back in time to, oh, the 1600s and commit suicide, then get reborn as either Washington or Lincoln.
    9) Failing that, travel to 1865, save Lincoln, bring him to the present, alter him to look like you, hope he doesn’t beat you death and let him take over. Don’t forget not to pay him a cent and take any salary he might receive. Who does he think he is impersonating you like that!!

  20. Scott F. says:

    @Kathy:
    The only way Trump is going to top a Presidential ranking list is to bear down and edge out Buchanan as the worst. He won’t need a time machine for that.

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  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    We are at this moment.

    Strawberries.

    https://youtu.be/ZlV3oQ3pLA0

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    This is a post on a thread on my FB page.

    God bless u. These mfz so simple minded like he finna pack his bags and leave 2night

    If only.

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  23. EddieInCA says:

    #DirtyDonald

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Mister Bluster: Oooh….I got a GREAT place! The part of the Ural Mountains that went radioactive when the Soviets stored the wrong amount of nuclear waste together because the critical mass was “revealed Truth, as revealed in the writings of Marx and Lenin.”

    (….it was supposedly after this that the USSR decided the doctrine of Revealed Truth wouldn’t be applied to, erm, physics.)

    The Donald Trump Radioactive Waste Dump. Perfecto.

  25. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @grumpy realist: That has my vote for renaming Yucca Mountain.

  26. RDM says:

    According to the left’s own witness, Harvard professor, Noah Feldman, President Trump is not impeached until the House sends the articles of impeachment over to the Senate.

    Trump 2020!

  27. RDM says:

    According the left’s own witness, Harvard Professor Noah Feldman, President Trump is not impeached until the House sends the articles of impeachment over to the Senate.