It could make sense as a strategy. Is he baiting Democrats to “Make his day?”
Looking at Donald Trump’s behavior since the Mueller Report was released in redacted form can cause some head scratching. You might think he’d change course and be less provocative, at least for a short time. But that’s not the case and sooner or later you need to look at alternative theories of why he has been so inflammatory. Consider this: the Treasury Department, part of the Executive Branch, is stonewalling a routine request for six years of his tax returns. The White House is invoking executive privilege to prevent aids from honoring congressional subpoenas to testify.
Trump’s individual actions may be outrageous to some but none alone is enough to cause congress to consider impeachment. But add the ten instances of behavior from the Mueller Report that some people assert look a lot like obstruction of justice, Trump’s failure to divest from his business and his questionable practices regarding domestic and foreign emoluments clauses violations, and diverting monies from the budget into his wall, and the stack begins to look significant.
Democrats have been downplaying impeachment talk partly out of concern that it could make Trump more popular on the eve of the next election. But Trump may look at the same circumstances and think impeachment is a good idea.
It’s not so far-fetched. Tulchin Research, and many other polling organizationsthis week have published similar statistics that show low approval ratings for Trump. He’s never had a rating above 50 percent. In a survey conducted April 22 and 23, Tulchin showed Trump with significantly negative numbers in the three industrial states that gave him the White House. The headline says it all,
“Voters in MI, PA and WI See Country on Wrong Track, Disapprove of Trump’s Job Performance
Voters in all three of these states are deeply concerned about the direction in which Donald Trump is leading the country. By double-digit margins, voters in Michigan (36% right direction to 57% wrong track), Wisconsin (35% right direction to 56% wrong track), and Pennsylvania (35% right direction to 58%) say that the country is off on the wrong track. Additionally, Trump receives poor marks for his handling of his job as President and is underwater by 17 points with Michigan voters (41% approve to 58% disapprove, -17), 12 points in Wisconsin (43% approve to 55% disapprove, -12), and 16 points in Pennsylvania (41% approve to 57% disapprove, -16).”
It’s not just one poll either. FiveThirtyEight.com, a reliable site for gathering polling information from around the Internet, shows very similar patterns across the country. It also shows several Democratic candidates beating Trump in head to head matchups.
Given all that, it’s reasonable to believe that an out of the box thinker like Trump might embrace the idea of impeachment as a sort of judo move to leverage an opponent’s strength and turn it into a liability.
No wonder senior Democrats are so cautious about initiating impeachment proceedings. If they can think logically and keep the more liberal and freshmen members in line it would be to their advantage.
There’s a short time between now and the fall of 2020 campaign. A little over a year. That’s just enough time to see an impeachment process ramp up and complete. But it would likely end just as the campaign gets into full swing and Trump being Trump would likely spin the impeachment failure into a shield.
Absent an official impeachment, Trump loses the advantage. If the Democrats play a strategic game, they’ll keep a constant drip of inquiries, hearings and trials going to deliver negative news about the administration. Also, keep in mind there are still a dozen active cases arising from the Mueller Investigation and indictments could come at any time. This might not satisfy the younger and more liberal members of the party but every release from the drip campaign has the potential for alienating additional voters and generating more negative headlines.
In total, there’s an avalanche of bad news for Trump waiting to be delivered between now and election day. So, it only makes sense that he’d try to change the subject by monopolizing news cycles with an impeachment and likely acquittal in a GOP controlled senate.
Given all of the negative news that would likely come out before election day 2020 and Trump’s persistent unpopularity, it’s difficult to see how he could be re-elected without taking command of the news and impeachment offers that.