U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions while departing the White House on October 03, 2019 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions while departing the White House on October 03, 2019 in Washington, DC.


President Donald Trump is betting that Americans will become so accustomed to his transgressions that they will become immune to outrage; that they will inoculate him against impeachment.

That may be why on Thursday he made a calculated tactical move. He confessed to asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and he publicly doubled down, urging yet another foreign government to interfere in US democracy. He suggested that China should investigate Biden, one of his leading opponents in the 2020 presidential election. (There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine. There’s also no evidence that the former vice president received any money from China.)

But let’s not confuse calculated and tactical with brilliant or clever. The move is part of Trump’s “stable genius” playbook. Imagine confessing to an egregious abuse of power as a strategy for victory.

We know this was a planned maneuver because less than 24 hours earlier Trump was asked a question on the issue of Ukraine and he flailed awkwardly in front of a global audience. He was standing next to the visiting president of Finland, when Reuters reporter Jeff Mason insisted he answer, “What do you or what did you want [Ukraine’s] President Zelensky to do with regard to Joe and Hunter Biden?”

It was an embarrassing spectacle. The world took notice, remarking on his startling behavior, as Trump irascibly demanded that Mason move on to questioning the Finnish president.

But Wednesday morning, Trump came armed with his response. Shouting answers to shouted questions in the shadow of the helicopter on the White House lawn, the President copped to what many experts say is an impeachable offense — using his office for political gain — and then committed yet another such offense. But the second one was much worse than the one that already triggered an impeachment inquiry.

“What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens?” asked a reporter. Trump responded, “They should investigate the Bidens,” immediately adding, “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”

Only moments earlier, the President had noted that Chinese officials are headed to the United States next week for negotiations on the costly trade war that Trump has launched against China. He said: “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous, tremendous power.”

It recalled his request of a “favor” from the Ukrainian president—captured in a rough transcript of a phone call between Trump and Zelensky. Trump raised this “favor”– that Ukraine investigate Biden, just after Zelensky said he wanted to buy more Javelin missiles to defend against Russian-armed insurgents.

It was a reprisal of his 2016 call for Russian help, essentially “China, if you’re listening…”
This time, Chinese officials listening to Trump might surmise that obtaining a favorable trade deal with the United States may require helping the President win the election.

This time, Trump was asking not a friendly country, but a top geopolitical foe of the United States to interfere in America’s elections, an even more jaw-dropping affront to the responsible conduct of US foreign policy.

This time, the White House didn’t need to lock the transcript in a super-secure electronic system, as it did with the transcript of the Ukraine call. This time it was all out in the open.

When asked if he had talked about this with his Chinese counterpart, Trump appeared to issue a threat. “I’m sure President Xi does not like being under that kind of scrutiny…” he said, as he went on to spread more calumnies and innuendos about Biden.

Now we hear that Trump raised the matter with the Chinese president. In a call with Xi on June 18, according to CNN sources, Trump brought up Biden and Elizabeth Warren, his two leading contenders. The call was reportedly stored in the same ultra-secure server where the call with Ukraine’s president was locked away.

If the Ukraine call is grounds for impeachment, we’re going to need a bigger impeachment boat.

Why is Trump incriminating himself? The reasons are many. First, this strategy of smearing his opponent in conspiracy theories and enlisting the support of foreign governments worked well for him against Hillary Clinton in 2016, and back then he didn’t have access to all the elements of power he possesses as president.

Second, Trump may believe that by speaking openly about what he has done, it will look like it’s nothing to be ashamed of, perfectly normal, instead of an astonishing abuse of power and violation of his oath of office.

And third, Trump thinks he is invincible. This was yet another instance of unrestrained hubris; another case of him figuratively shooting someone on 5th Avenue, which, as he told us before, he thinks would not cost him a single vote.

Trump added even more wild conspiracy theories as the day progressed, fulminating against the “impeachment crap,” and suggesting without any evidence that the pharmaceutical industry is behind the impeachment inquiry.

At any other time in history, one single sentence from Thursday morning, one call for China to investigate a President’s political opponent, would become the biggest story of the month, a threat to a presidency.

This time, the biggest story of a head-spinning month is impossible to declare. But his presidency, yes, is under threat by the President’s own words and actions. Americans are outraged, and he has no inoculation against impeachment.

As reported by CNN