Is impeachment getting to President Donald Trump? The best way to read his mind is to read his Twitter timeline — and all the evidence suggests the increased scrutiny in the wake of Ukraine scandal has left the president boiling mad.
At the time of this writing, Trump has tweeted 129 separate times since Monday alone — and Wednesday isn't even finished. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted 53 times. On Monday, it was 42. Last week, there were three days in which he tweeted more than 40 times a day — an amount which, in recent months and weeks, had been a relatively rare occurrence. In March, the Washington Post had reported that Trump had had a particularly prolific 34 hours on Twitter in which he had tweeted 52 times. Now, he'll bang that out or more in a day, easy.
Of course, any single tweet doesn't take that long to send, but it's important to remember that he also has the business of running the executive branch to attend to.
Trump's tweeting has been particularly furious, too. He's been lashing out at former Vice President Joe Biden, a fixation that led him to his current predicament when he was inspired to pressure Ukraine to open an impeachment investigation into his potential 2020 opponent. Trump's allegations are largely specious and unsupported as usual, and they feature the comparatively uninspired nickname of "Sleepy Joe."
One of his tweets claimed that "Only 25 percent want the President Impeached" — a claim that CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale couldn't find much support for. One poll the president could potentially be referencing found that 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of the impeachment inquiry — a number that is actually pretty high. But Trump has repeatedly suggested or implied that the only thing that matters to him is the support he has among his own voters — a circular and nonsensical view.
He's not just tweeting about his own impeachment and Joe Biden. He's also lashing out at other favorite targets, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And he's attack House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, who is leading the impeachment inquiry against Trump. Schiff has become a target for right-wing media for his prominent role, and on Wednesday Trump declared he is "a disgrace to our Country!" In one tweet, he even accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of lying to Congress, based on a thinly sourced Fox New story.
Donald Trump Jr. has been getting promoted by his father on Twitter amidst the furor. He's a devoted defender of the president and has repeatedly fired off attacks on the government whistleblower who sparked the scrutiny of the Ukraine scandal. The president has gleefully retweeted those attacks, but they're largely beside the point — the White House and Trump himself have repeatedly confirmed the bulk of the whistleblower's complaint, so his or her accuracy or supposed bias is no longer relevant.
Trump has tweeted some about policy, mentioning the tweaked version of NAFTA (what he calls the USMCA) that he is trying to push through Congress and boasting about the large number of judges he has confirmed as president. But largely, the tweets reveal how little Trump is focused on policy — he's obsessed with his own political standing and going after his perceived enemies. His legislative agenda is dead in the water, and he has little to offer the country but bigotry and broken promises.
That's why it's not surprising that, as the Daily Beast reported, Republicans are not thrilled with his impeachment strategy. According to reporters Sam Stein, Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Broedy:
The fear emanating from Capitol Hill and other corners of the GOP is that Trump’s proclivity for going on the attack is harming his long-term political prospects. And as poll numbers continue to show growing support for impeaching him over his encouragement of foreign governments to investigate Joe Biden’s son’s work in Ukraine, Republicans are suggesting that he fine-tune his approach.
“He should issue an ever-increasing stream of policy initiatives that have nothing to do with impeachment,” said Dick Morris, the longtime GOP political consultant who informally advised President Bill Clinton when he too was facing impeachment. “You just have to make sausage every day and put it up on a nail,” he added. “The public will look for other stuff to follow. And that will be what Trump is putting out there.”
But Trump has no capacity to ignore attacks and criticism and just move on. And he's never shown much interest in actually doing the job of president. The most significant thing he's done since impeachment began in earnest — withdrawing American troops from northern Syria, abandoning the United States' Kurdish allies to likely attacks from Turkish forces — has served to infuriate Republicans, not win them to his side.
The best bet, of course, is still that Trump will be impeached in the House and survive a trial in the Senate. And perhaps Trump's strategy of distraction and outrage will, in fact, serve well to inflame his base and secure his Republican support. But GOP lawmakers won't be happy about it.