On Sunday night, Donald Trump turned his attention to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, publishing a mini-tantrum to Twitter that went largely overlooked. The president’s argument, such as it was, centered around the idea that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff committed all kinds of misdeeds, which Pelosi knew about.
Ergo, Trump concluded, both Democratic leaders are equally “guilty” of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and even Treason.” The Republican added that Pelosi and Schiff should “must” be “immediately” impeached.
Even if we put aside the relevant details – Schiff obviously didn’t commit any crimes, members of Congress cannot be impeached under our system of government, etc. – we’re left with an uncomfortable realization: a sitting American president publicly accused the House Speaker of “treason,” an unprecedented development in our nation’s history, and it quickly became overlooked background noise.
This is our life now.
The day after Trump suggested congressional leaders committed treason and should be impeached – one of these days, someone ought to buy this guy a civics textbook – the Republican went after Adam Schiff again at a White House event on Japanese trade. Specifically, the American president offered this memorable assessment of the Intelligence Committee’s chairman and his recent paraphrase of Trump during a hearing:
“I think he’s having some kind of a breakdown. Because he got up and made a speech that bore no relationship to what the conversation was.”
Yes, on the same afternoon in which Donald Trump told the world he has “great and unmatched wisdom,” following a series of incidents in which he talked about prosecuting his critics and casually threw around “treason” accusations, believes someone else appears to be “having some kind of a breakdown.”
Why? Because the president, lacking in self-awareness, thinks Schiff’s comments “bore no relationship” to reality.
I hope you caught Rachel’s segment last night on the White House’s linguistic campaign, featuring a president who thinks he can “I’m rubber, you’re glue” his way out of this.
“What we have already started living through here is an effort … to turn the behavior for which the president has now been caught, not just into some amorphous and unnecessarily complicated thing that doesn’t really have any inherent meaning, but also to try to make his sins our sins. To try to absolve himself of his own crimes by putting what he did and – what he and his sort of henchmen in Ukraine have been doing – to try to put those crimes on everybody else’s rap sheet.
“And I know it is hard to follow the twists and turns of the story as it continues to develop right now, but just heads up on this part of it. We are in the middle of them trying to redefine this whole thing, to try to make this simple case as messy as possible, and to try to make it seem like whatever the president did must have been done by his accusers first and worse. We’ve seen them do this before with language and with the ‘no puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet’ argument. If it works against this impeachment thing, there’s no grounds on which factually based accusations can ever be brought against this president.
“If it doesn’t work in this impeachment thing, we will have taken giant steps forward as a country part toward not being manipulated this way again the way we have so badly for the last three years.”
Trump has a playbook for defending himself and projection remains the first page.