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Trump's old ways colliding with new realities

25 Comments
By JONATHAN LEMIRE
President Donald Trump Photo: AP

Telling half-truths and outright lies. Manipulating media coverage. Pushing legal boundaries. Pressuring subordinates to do the dirty work. Believing in the force of his own personality. Accepting no personal responsibility.

The playbook Donald Trump has used as a real estate developer, celebrity businessman and political candidate has, for the most part, proved effective through the first two-plus years of his presidency.

He has shown an uncanny ability to wriggle out of jams that might have doomed just about any of his predecessors.

That MO may finally be catching up to Trump amid the House's impeachment inquiry. The tactics that helped win the White House have jeopardized his hold on it, ensnaring him in accusations that he enlisted a foreign government to investigate a political foe and, so far, leaving him flailing against a rapidly escalating investigation.

"He's arrived at a very different place right now. He's being held to account in a way that he never had before and is running into the limits of what he normally does," said Tim O'Brien, a Trump biographer and frequent critic. "The Trump we're used to seeing is someone whose visceral feeling to survive is to plow through public criticism to just push forward. His behavior hasn't changed, his circumstance has."

It was Trump's ability to get out of one predicament that led him into this one.

The investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian election interference shadowed the White House for two years before ending with a whimper on July 24, when the former FBI director's faltering testimony seemed to close the book on the inquiry. Mueller told Congress that he could not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice, and Trump told the world that he had been completely cleared.

Trump's approval rating has never dipped below 32% or risen above 42% in Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polls since he took office. His grasp on power and his hold over the Republican Party have been unshaken.

A day after Mueller's congressional appearance, an emboldened Trump asked Ukraine to investigate a leading Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The speed of the story has stunned a capital already used to a relentless Trumpian news cycle. In barely two weeks' time, under an avalanche of disclosures in news stories and Trump's damaging admissions, House Democrats called for an impeachment inquiry, posing the gravest threat yet to his presidency.

To this point, Trump appears foundering in how he's reacted. With no formal response team and with many in his party keeping quiet, Trump has turned into a one-man war room. He's raged at news conferences, berated aides and directed epithets at critics.

"He's being erratic and inflammatory," said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. "It's not a strategy designed to garner new voters. Who wants to buy into an act of a man screaming in chaotic fashion? Instead of trying to work his way out of the hole, he's digging himself deeper."

In many ways, Trump has lived a life free of consequences.

His two divorces were marriages from which he wanted to escape. He turned the separations into tabloid gold. His early financial struggles were resolved by his father. His bankruptcies mostly impacted his lenders. He never apologizes, moves to win that day's — really, that minute's — news cycle, and trusts that his supporters will believe and follow him.

"He is facing the ramifications of his actions in a new way," said O'Brien. "What is so striking about this Ukraine story is that the anger that his closest allies would only see behind closed doors has burst into public view. I think he's going to continue to lash out and burn things down around him. He'll try to throw more people in his close circle under the bus if he needs to."

His upstart presidential campaign was riddled with gaffes and blunders that would have ended his candidacy. Each time, he pushed forward and survived.

He broke norms at every turn. He insulted Republican stalwart John McCain, a former prisoner of war, for being captured. He derided a beauty pageant queen for being overweight. He accused an American-born judge of Mexican descent of being incapable of impartiality on immigration. He had his fixer, Michael Cohen, pay off women with whom he had affairs.

Every time he was wounded, he would strike back, and even harder. The best example came at the most perilous moment of the campaign, the October 2016 weekend after release of an "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump is heard boasting about sexually assaulting women.

After holing up in Trump Tower for 24 hours as rumors swirled that he might be replaced on the ticket by his running mate Mike Pence, Trump emerged on a Saturday afternoon and plunged into a crowd of supporters gathered outside, as if drawing strength from the unshakable loyalty of his base.

The next day, in the hour before second general election debate with Hillary Clinton, he held a surprise news conference in St. Louis with women who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety. It was a jaw-dropping moment in a campaign full of them.

Trump had changed the conversation and a month later, he was elected the president. And that is why some of the closest supporters believe he can escape this crisis too.

"It's not planned strategy, really, it's just who he is," said Sam Nunberg, a former campaign adviser. "The president is trying to take control of the narrative. Releasing everything. On the attack. And what he has been able to successfully do, as of now, is control the Republican Party, keep them in line. His supporters, and small donors, and are still with him."

"If this was any other president, they'd be one foot out the door," said Nunberg. "He'll survive this. He always does."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

25 Comments
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The most corrupt President in our nation's history, bar none. Shameful.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Manipulating media coverage. 

Oh, that's rich, being as how the media ignores all the positive things that have come from the Trump presidency and continually attack him.

Trump's old ways colliding with new realities

Give me a break.

Trump 2020

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

The most corrupt President in our nation's history, bar none. Shameful

Beg to differ, not even close, but as far as our intelligence agencies and the people trying to take down this duly elected President, these people are beyond corrupt. Thank god this guy is a fighter or he would have been dust a long time ago.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Trump more unpopular than Carter.

Tweets in the middle of the night, flips again at dawn and then flips again by night fall.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Trump more unpopular than Carter.

To the haters, yes. Not to most Republicans with his 90% approval.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

To the haters, yes. Not to most Republicans with his 90% approval.

Good thing zichi wasn't talking about how our nation views Donny, not just how ignorant republicans view Donny or you'd have a valid point.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

To the haters, yes. Not to most Republicans with his 90% approval.

But last time out the republican voters were the minority and they lost Trump the vote. Those numbers have again decreased since Trump took office so next time the voter numbers will be down by more than 5 million.

Even the devil is popular with his believers but it don't make him good or right.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Telling half-truths and outright lies. Manipulating media coverage. Pushing legal boundaries. Pressuring subordinates to do the dirty work. Believing in the force of his own personality. Accepting no personal responsibility.

The author nailed that one - only ones he left out were pervert and Putin-lover...

His two divorces were marriages from which he wanted to escape. He turned the separations into tabloid gold. His early financial struggles were resolved by his father. His bankruptcies mostly impacted his lenders. He never apologizes, moves to win that day's — really, that minute's — news cycle, and trusts that his supporters will believe and follow him.

Indeed, it's not a political following, it's a cult...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good thing zichi wasn't talking about how our nation views Donny,

That would depend on the people you’re asking, so far more than 130 million view him favorably.

not just how ignorant republicans view Donny or you'd have a valid point.

Lol and the nutjob Democrats continue to make fools of themselves, definitely a sight to behold.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

But last time out the republican voters were the minority and they lost Trump the vote.

Well, now the Dems are pushing voters closer to him, so if you’re looking at the money the GOP is raising, especially the last quarter $124 million and 48 hours after Nancy started to launch the Impeachment hoax the man raised $15 million, so that’s a clear sign support has picked up, numbers still the same, so those are all pluses as he gears up to take the Democrats on.

Those numbers have again decreased since Trump took office so next time the voter numbers will be down by more than 5 million.

Even the devil is popular with his believers but it don't make him good or right.

Which the numbers ticked up again, the Democrats keep on trying as you’d expect they would to spell doom and gloom and it’s not working this time...well, anytime it’s never worked.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

That would depend on the people you’re asking, so far more than 130 million view him favorably.

This sounds dodgy. Where are you getting that figure from?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

New poll shows 20-point increase in support for Impeachment Inquiry among the republicans. 58% of the country saying now supports the impeachment enquiry and 49% support removing Trump from office.

This sounds dodgy. Where are you getting that figure from?

The River Mersey.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That would depend on the people you’re asking, so far more than 130 million view him favorably.

So 63 million voted for Trump in 2016 but now the figure doubles to 130 million. White rabbits out of a hat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So 63 million voted for Trump in 2016 but now the figure doubles to 130 million. White rabbits out of a hat.

White Russians out of Moscow...along with a few extra white supremacists....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This sounds dodgy. Where are you getting that figure from?

Not nearly as dodgy as what the Democrats are trying to do to this President.

New poll shows 20-point increase in support for Impeachment Inquiry among the republicans. 58% of the country saying now supports the impeachment enquiry and 49% support removing Trump from office.

Ahh, the old liberal polls again, like with impeachment and the other crap that liberals want to masses to think supports them? Ok. Lol

49%? Oh, well, that’s just like with the Mueller hoax, then we’re in good territory, not that big of a change, so literally the same numbers, if you choose to believe them.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So 63 million voted for Trump in 2016 but now the figure doubles to 130 million. White rabbits out of a hat.

No, but a lot of that support has grown exceptionally.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

in the hour before second general election debate with Hillary Clinton, he held a surprise news conference in St. Louis with women who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety. It was a jaw-dropping moment in a campaign full of them.

The look on Bill's face when Trump brought the women to that debate was priceless.

The Democrat Party's motto is "Show me the man and I will show you the crime."

But Trump releasing the phone call transcript foiled the Democrats' plans, hehe.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The only question that any American should be allowed to get an answer is if any wrongdoing has been committed by Trump. Nothing to do with Right or Left.

Subsidiary question is if Trump can be impeached by threatening whistleblowers following the due reporting process?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

in the hour before second general election debate with Hillary Clinton, he held a surprise news conference in St. Louis with women who accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety. It was a jaw-dropping moment in a campaign full of them.

The look on Bill's face when Trump brought the women to that debate was priceless.

Trumpers still living in 2016 - yet the Clinton's still haunt their brains three years later....sweet revenge...

The Democrat Party's motto is "Show me the man and I will show you the crime.

Uh-uh; Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadaplous, Cohen, Assange, et al....

But Trump releasing the phone call transcript foiled the Democrats' plans, hehe.

Dear Donnie and your genius lawyer - thank you for providing the smoking gun....hehe...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Trumpers still living in 2016 - yet the Clinton's still haunt their brains three years later....sweet revenge...

Like liberals and their Trump obsessions. Lol

Uh-uh; Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadaplous, Cohen, Assange, et al....

Presidential pardons abound.

Dear Donnie and your genius lawyer - thank you for providing the smoking gun....hehe

And then Mitch acquits and then life will turn back to normal.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Like liberals and their Trump obsessions. Lol

so Trump is the current president. Hillary is gone.

Presidential pardons abound.

Pardons don't make then innocent and Trump can't pardon himself so he'll end in jail without any friends. Better leave a few in there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pardons don't make then innocent and Trump can't pardon himself so he'll end in jail without any friends.

Trump has as much of a chance going to jail as Hillary.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The Crook in Chief.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In many ways, Trump has lived a life free of consequences.

His two divorces were marriages from which he wanted to escape. He turned the separations into tabloid gold. His early financial struggles were resolved by his father. His bankruptcies mostly impacted his lenders. He never apologizes, moves to win that day's — really, that minute's — news cycle, and trusts that his supporters will believe and follow him.

What a loser.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trump don't have a teflon finish.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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