Donald Trump is afraid of the Russia scandal — and he’s having a hard time hiding it
President Donald Trump might be panicking, according to observers. The new president’s manic behavior seems to be showing itself in his tweets more and more.
As MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted, Trump trying frantically to blame former President Barack Obama for Trump hiring retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn seemed to indicate some anxiety. Trump then decided to suggest former acting attorney general Sally Yates was behind the “illegal leaks” he’s been blaming on ex-Obama staff.
Trump’s frenzied flood of tweets trying to downplay Yates’ hearing or changing the subject make him look even more desperate. He then decided former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony that claimed there’s “no evidence” of “collusion” between Russia and Trump’s campaign clears him of any possible guilt.
Benen cited Trump’s own profound love of his own tweet that he made it part of his Twitter banner graphic and only changed it after the internet humiliated him with mockery. He wondered what that awkward conversation between the poor White House aide ordered to change the graphic must have been like.
“Trump continues to struggle with reality with a confused understanding of the facts available and his fear is becoming more pronounced,” Benen explained. While Clapper seemed to give Trump a pass, it doesn’t mean the collusion never occurred, merely the investigation is still working to learn more.
When Clapper was asked Monday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if he ever found “a situation where a Trump business interest in Russia” gave him “concern.”
Clapper gave a curious response that he didn’t “in the course of the preparation of the intelligence community’s assessment.”
When pressed further he revealed he can’t comment on anything that could impact an investigation.
Benen included an interview by NBC’s Chuck Todd from a March interview with Clapper on “Meet the Press.” When asked about collusion there, Clapper said, “not to my knowledge.” The quote has been repeated over and over by members of the Trump team. But Monday’s testimony made Trump’s life a little more difficult. He couldn’t comment on an ongoing counterintelligence investigation — meaning there is still an investigation that continues into Trump and Russia.
“He essentially told the Senate subcommittee that he was not in a position to know for certain,” Benen wrote. “This piece of spin should now be buried. Trump can no longer hide behind this one Clapper statement.”
When it came to specifics on whether the campaign colluded with Russia, Yates said yesterday she couldn’t answer without revealing classified information. As Benen points out, neither of those statements are a win for Trump. Trump’s signature hyperbole and incautious need to spin the facts and quotes he wished people said to make him look even worse.