Now that the impeachment of Donald Trump is all but certain to move quickly through the House and then to the Senate for trial, one of the president's long-time observers and author of a book on the president's business dealings claims the president's way of handling legal issues, as well as his unimpressive legal team, doesn't bode well for him impeachment hits the Senate floor.
Writing from his perch at Bloomberg, author Tim O'Brien said the "chaos" that Trump surrounds himself with as a defense won't work under the strict rules of Senate impeachment proceedings.
"This has become a runaway train for the White House, careening inevitably toward a House vote to impeach Trump and a Senate trial," O'Brien writes. "Yet through most of it, the White House has simply stood by, relying on staged outrage from Republican proxies and mocking invective from the president’s Twitter feed. Mockery, though, isn’t strategy. And Trump is responding to the most serious threat to his presidency by tightening his decades-long embrace of chaos, mismanagement and serial buffoonery. Neither he nor his advisers have been able to respond to the threats they face in a sophisticated way."
Adding that, to date, Trump's legal team has been "at best, oblivious," O'Brien points out that White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been not much help.
"Cipollone wrote a vacuous, poorly argued eight-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, advising her that Team Trump would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Since then, a slew of White House officials have cooperated anyway," he points out before adding that seldom-seen White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham has been a disaster.
"Stephanie Grisham, has played only one weak card in its efforts to sway public perception of impeachment: Trump is good for America, and the inquiry violates his right to due process," he explained. "This message may appeal to Trump’s base, but it hasn’t stopped swing voters from supporting the inquiry."
Worse, O'Brien suggests, is that the White House response is being overseen by Jared Kushner: "Someone with negligible legal training who has no experience responding to an impeachment inquiry."
"Kushner is also an unlikely strategist, having failed to fulfill presidential mandates to streamline the federal bureaucracy or bring peace to the Middle East. While managing to push through criminal sentencing reform, he also helped get the president in hot water by recommending he fire former FBI Director James Comey," O'Brien recalled.
According to the author, the president's biggest obstacle is his inability ty to get out of his own way and stop making things worse.
"Trump, who is 73, has led an oddly charmed life that has left him unconcerned about process, planning or results. His family’s wealth insulated him from the consequences of mistakes he made in his early years — including his flirtation with personal bankruptcy and several corporate bankruptcies — as did the celebrity he enjoyed when he became a reality-TV star later in life," he explained. "Now facing an impeachment inquiry, Trump is still unable to move beyond nyah-nyahs and finger-pointing."
"He doesn’t understand it, but that’s his biggest problem," he concluded.
You can read the whole piece here (subscription required).