We saw it during the Mueller investigation, as we are seeing it now: Donald Trump is musing about testifying publicly, just as impeachment efforts are ramping up and damning testimony after damning testimony comes in, day after day.
What we also know about Donald Trump is his ability to lie. He has made more than 13,435 false claims since swearing the oath of office, an astounding number. And while we have nothing to compare that number to — the fervor of fact checking against Trump is something new — those very fact checkers were spawned by his ability to spew off falsehoods.
Take those two considerations together. The President of the United States, publicly testifying under oath, unable to hold back lies. Sense the danger?
Of course, it will never happen. Trump did indeed float the idea of being questioned by Robert Mueller in his investigation, but never followed through. (His team did submit written answers to Mueller’s questions.) The same will likely ring true for his most recent musings.
Another indication that Trump will never testify just arose in the news, right around the same time he brought up the idea of testifying, again. The House is currently investigating whether Trump lied in his written answers provided to Mueller. Why would Trump give the House more of an opportunity to do just that?
It’s safe to assume that Trump understands he will never testify. His aides, administration and counsel understand that too.
So why does he keep suggesting it publicly? More specifically, how does Trump gain from putting these suggestions out there?
It distracts the media. Whether you like Trump or not — for the record, I do not — he is a master at manipulating the media. Actually, scratch that; he is a master of the media. It’s not that the media is being played by Trump, but that Trump has found out the best way to use the media to his advantage.
In this case, Trump is chipping away at the negative coverage about him literally everywhere, and capitalizing on a small corner of the market with positive coverage. This news shows to some that Trump has nothing to hide. He’s cooperating with the investigation. He’s reasonable, confident and looks like someone who leads, not someone who cowers in fear at Adam Schiff’s gavel.
And that’s what this is all about — theater. The impeachment hearings themselves are theater, and you’d be right to assume all of this is about looks. When a witness is called to testify, it is more a chance for Jim Jordan to pontificate on primetime than to get facts from Kurt Volker. All of this is theater, and Trump is just putting his hat in the ring.
Does it have any discernible impact on what anyone actually believes? I doubt it. But it’s just one example of many that Trump, an entertainer and media mogul, is doing what he does best: staying relevant and always being the spectacle with the power, regardless of what else is happening.
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