By now, everyone with a functioning sensory apparatus knows about The Book – Michael Wolff’s questionably sourced, West Wing couch potato account of this administration. The author has been featured nonstop on nearly every media outlet for a week – an exceedingly long time for any single piece of news nowadays. We have heard about his fly on the wall revelations describing Donald Trump’s childlike behavior, the diminution of his cognitive functions, his illiteracy, stubbornness, revenge agenda, temper tantrums, that litany of complaint.
The media have orchestrated wave after wave of outraged and terrified analysts, lawyers, ex-officials and armchair psychiatrists who pound the collective American ear with a single message: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit for the office of the presidency.
Dovetailing with this extraordinary media barrage of not-new information, comes the whispers of imminent interviews between Trump and Special Counsel Bob Mueller.
Another batch of media-sponsored legal advisors tell us that this could be catastrophic. They reiterate the reasons: Trump is a horrible client; he doesn’t prepare for depositions; he won’t read or listen to lawyerly advice; Trump has a faulty memory; his executive functions are nil.
Taken as a whole, these two items – Trump’s supposed lack of capacity and the upcoming interviews – lead to two possible scenarios.
One, VP Pence will rally his Cabinet – many of whom have already rumbled about the allegations in The Book – and pursue that 25th Amendment option. He will need the support of the GOP Congress to pull off the unprecedented action. That is just as apt to happen as not.
We’ve all heard the effusive love gushing forth – a mantra that cuddles and disarms Trump while embracing his crass cult. It’s as if they’re saying: “We love him but must protect him.” What better way to upend the administration without betraying that 30% voting bloc?
Two, Mueller’s findings will be tainted by a general consensus that the man in the White House is non compos mentis, that he did not know what he was doing, that he was a hapless pawn in the hands of evil lieutenants like Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort or his conspiratorial sons or the Javanka faction. Trump’s lawyers might even raise an insanity defense.
The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. A successful 25th Amendment removal wouldn’t eliminate charges by the Mueller team. However, there is no historical guidance when it comes to impeachment. Pence would be Acting President and Trump would be in some executive ether: the elected President without the powers of the office. Could impeachment be brought forward under these circumstances?
Donald Trump might choose to fight for his seat in the Oval Office under Section Four of the Amendment. This move would thwart absolute control by Pence, muck up the functioning of the Legislative branch, encourage and enrage his cult following and generally, throw the governance of the country in turmoil.
There is no firm conclusion to these scenarios. There is only the coordinated effort to cast Donald Trump as incompetent at a time when the special prosecutor is homing in on his primary target. The two events could be coincidental. Who really knows?