In a new article in The New York Times, “more than a dozen current and former administration officials, Republicans and allies of the president” help reveal some of Trump’s desperate behavior in his final weeks in office. Publicly, Trump has melted down, alleging widespread fraud that unfairly swung the election to President-elect Joe Biden, despite the total lack of meaningful evidence for his claims. Meanwhile, the Times reports that, privately, Trump’s “erratic behavior and detachment from his duties have even some of his most loyal aides and advisers deeply concerned.”
Apparently, outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr himself “has told associates he had been alarmed by Mr. Trump’s behavior in recent weeks,” no matter his past allegiance to Trump’s agenda. That “deep concern,” of course, isn’t new among members of the public, and those who have stuck around Trump might not deserve special credit — but when Trump is even losing folks still in the White House after this chaos, how unhinged has he gotten? The Times says that “current advisers have described a daily struggle to keep Mr. Trump from giving in to his impulse to listen to those who are telling him what he wants to hear.”
The people pushing messages that Trump “wants to hear” include conspiracy-monger Sidney Powell, who Trump temporarily floated as a potential special counsel for election fraud-related issues before apparently backing down from that idea more recently.
Powell has pushed ludicrous ideas like the notion that Dominion Voting Systems, a widely used election management machine company, was in cahoots with an election-rigging scheme kickstarted by the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who has been dead for about seven years. Trump has also reportedly privately raised the prospect of deploying the military to, presumably, conduct a new presidential election, although he has denied this report. Still, the Times notes that “former advisers say the most worrisome issue is the gradual disappearance of the core group of West Wing aides who, often working in unison, consistently could get [Trump] to turn away from risky, legally dubious and dangerous ideas.” Michael Flynn, who served at one point in the Trump administration as the president’s national security adviser, has pushed the martial law idea.
Ultimately, Trump seems desperate — the Times says that the outgoing president has even “complained to allies that [Mike] Pence, who has been mocked for unflinching loyalty over the last four years, should be doing more to defend him.” At this point, there is no legitimate mechanism by which Trump could stay in power for another four years. Every single state has now long since certified their statewide results, the members of the electoral college have all cast their votes, and Congress is set to certify the results in early January.
Trump just keeps alleging widespread fraud for which he has no legitimate evidence. Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt seem to aptly sum up the situation in the Times, writing that “[it] is not clear that Mr. Trump’s latest behavior is anything other than a temper tantrum, attention-seeking or a form of therapy for the man who controls a nuclear arsenal — though one alternative, if charitable, view is that it is strategic groundwork for a grievance-filled run in 2024.”