It’s always fascinating to see someone in a powerful position who lacks impulse control. That it is a former president of the United States running for reelection is, frankly, bizarre. Donald Trump is known as a freewheeling, brash, wild personality.
He won his first unlikely electoral victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election, at least in part, because of his prodigious use of Twitter as a means of stealing the media spotlight away from his opponents, both in the Republican Party’s Primary in that year as well as the General Election.
Despite these successes, Trump exhibited an inability to control himself or to create reliable plans needed for controlling events while in office. He often did far more damage to himself because of his (let’s just call it what it is) big mouth.
And if Trump wasn’t antagonizing situations with his loose talk, he was firebombing problems with constant rage-tweets, or taking thoughtless actions that made him feel good.
Donald Trump Hurts Himself Every Time
At no point during his controversial presidency did Trump’s enemies ever do as much damage to his presidency than Trump did to himself.
For example, no one in their right mind truly believed that Donald Trump was a Russian spy or that his campaign had cooperated with Russian intelligence to rig the 2016 Presidential Election against Hillary Clinton.
But Trump breathed new life into the scurrilous accusation when he fired then-FBI Director James Comey (who was at the time of his firing rumored to have been preparing to close the delusional FBI investigation into Trump-Russia connections) and told the press that he had fired Comey because the FBI Director was investigating Trump for supposed ties to Russian intelligence.
That was the compelling justification for the desperate Democrats to use to justify the creation of what became an out-of-control special counsel investigation that disabled the Trump Administration for almost two years and weakened Trump electorally.
All because Donald Trump acted impulsively—and then, when he did act impulsively, Trump shot his mouth off to the press and insisted he fired Comey because he was investigating Trump for alleged ties to Russia.
There were, of course, many more examples of Trump’s inability to leave well-enough-alone costing him. Some of those examples were ultimately insignificant, like the time he tried to claim a hurricane hit Alabama when it did not and others very significant, such as the Comey example above.
Each time, though, the significant and insignificant examples of Trump’s very public lack of impulse control had cumulative effect of weakening his presidency just enough to remove whatever goodwill may have existed for him in the electorate going into the critical 2020 Presidential Election Cycle.
Now, Trump finds himself under significant legal threat.
Donald Trump and Classified Documents
Lacking the protections that the presidency had previously provided him, the former president faces counts related to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.
These are federal charges having to do with allegations that Trump violated the Espionage Act and may have subsequently obstructed justice.
On a very technical level, it is more than likely that the forty-fifth president violated some laws related to the handling of classified documents just enough to give what is obviously a politically motivated grand jury investigation the heft it needed to get this indictment that the Administrative State, as nominally led by President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic Party political rival, through and will probably be enough to find Trump guilty.
Here again, we have Trump’s utter lack of impulse control being the root cause of his downfall. It’s a significant character flaw.
Character, as they say, is destiny. Just as with the Comey firing, Donald J. Trump was told repeatedly not to violate the standards set out by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as he was leaving the White House.
The National Archives has documentary evidence in the form of a long email chain between their representatives and the president’s top advisers, in which they spelled out the proper procedures the forty-fifth president was required to follow in order to leave the White House with the classified documents he was ultimately found in possession of after an unprecedented (and, frankly, appalling) FBI raid on his home at Mar-a-Lago last August.
That email chain supposedly proves that Trump’s top advisers relayed to the former president the National Archives’ instructions.
Trump, operating under the assumption that the classified material were “[his] documents” as he continues to proudly purport today in the press, simply absconded from the White House with those files.
More gallingly, Trump was given over a year by the National Archives to return those documents and then go through the proper declassification procedures to retrieve whatever documents from his presidency that he desired.
Yet, Donald J. Trump being Trump, simply refused to follow those regulations.
Trump, therefore, exposed himself to a federal probe that many legal experts—including Trump’s former loyal attorney general, Bill Barr—believe will be his undoing. Had Trump simply returned to documents a year-and-a-half ago, when the National Archives requested their return, he’d not have had to endure this legal fiasco.
What’s more, the longer that Trump refused to hand the documents over, the more he antagonized the National Archives, who quickly moved an anti-Trump zealot into position to harangue Trump over this matter.
And when it became clear that the former president would not cooperate, the ideologically motivated National Archives bureaucrat escalated the situation by getting the DOJ to open an investigation into the matter which, inevitably, led to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago and has now coalesced into the serious grand jury investigation resulting thus far in Trump’s indictment on 37 counts related to violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice.
Trump’s Stupid War with Jack Smith
Back in the summer, Trump worsened his situation because he just gave a speech calling for Republicans to “put out to rest” and “defund” Jack Smith’s dual investigations into his alleged mishandling of classified documents and Trump’s possible role in the January 6 Capitol Hill riot.
In fact, Trump has given an escalating series of public attacks, both at packed campaign rallies as well as on his social media site, Truth Social, directed against the Democratic Party, the Department of Justice, and Special Counsel Jack Smith.
This, as Smith is eying indicting Trump not only for additional charges in the classified documents case but related to the January 6 case as well. Trump’s ire directed at Smith is not unfounded.
Indeed, he’s probably correct that at least of what’s happening to him in these legal cases is politically motivated.
Alas, it doesn’t really matter because Trump’s own actions and words have left him exposed to these charges.
Trump is yet again antagonizing a situation in which he could receive decades behind bars. Further, he’s aggravating a man, Jack Smith, who literally can ruin Trump’s life over the next couple of years, and has demonstrated a willingness to do so. It’s likely Trump is hoping that the increased fighting with Smith boosts his already increasing poll numbers and allows for him to coast through a crowded GOP Primary.
GOP Voters May Like Trump’s Legal Fight But Independent Voters Don’t
But Donald Trump must worry about how the all-important independent voters will view his endless legal saga, should Trump become the GOP nominee and face Joe Biden. Thus far, the polls indicate that most independent voters are dissatisfied with the appearance that Trump operates as though he’s above the law (most independents feel the same way about Joe Biden as it relates to his own purported mishandling of classified documents).
All this was avoidable, though.
Not only could the entire legal proceeding been avoided but the seemingly endless expansion of the case could have certainly been avoided as well. Trump, whether unintentional or not, has continued putting himself in a corner—and providing the ammunition that his enemies need to do serious damage to him—far better than those enemies ever could have done on their own.
Donald Trump has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. It is very concerning to think that he might one day again be in the Oval Office, given that he is a septuagenarian with no apparent impulse control who has a stunning ability to ruin his own life with idiotic, impulsive behavior.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.
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