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Mr. Trump’s Midterm Paranoia

President Attempting to Pre-Emptively Delegitimize

President Trump began the week, as is his wont, by having a Twitter fit about the continuing Russia investigation.

“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Mr. Trump groused. “In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”

The monarchical grandeur of Mr. Trump’s assertion that he has the power to pardon himself raised eyebrows and prompted sputtering among his critics, but it shouldn’t really have shocked anyone. It has long been clear that Mr. Trump confuses the role and powers of the president with those of a king. His legal team, regrettably, seems to be actively fueling this confusion, as revealed in the recently leaked memos that it sent to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, the theme of which more or less boils down to the Nixonian musing: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Arguably more noteworthy, and more troubling, is the president’s emerging effort to pre-emptively place the blame for what promises to be a tough election cycle for congressional Republicans on what he now regularly denounces as the partisan, “rigged,” “unconstitutional” machinations of Mr. Mueller and his investigative team. Message to the nation: Don’t blame me if my party takes a beating in November. The Witch Hunters are busy manipulating the system.

Mr. Trump began test-driving this exercise in buck-passing in earnest last week, with a classic executive-time tweet on Tuesday morning: “The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls. There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”

With this assertion, Mr. Trump is going for a twofer: He is once again trying to delegitimize the special counsel’s investigation and at the same time is laying the groundwork to dismiss the results of the November elections as having been corrupted by the “MEDDLING” of Mueller & Company.

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