One thing about the Kavanaugh drama that did not get much attention, but warrants some attention, is how Trump leveraged the event to transform the Republican Party into his party, one that is looking to him for leadership. Just listen to some of the things GOP senators are saying now and it is as if they have gone through some sort of religious experience. Not only are they operating like a real political party, they are standing up to the Left’s morality play. It’s a remarkable transformation in just a few weeks.
Two moves by Trump seem to have set all of this in motion, as well as making it possible for Kavanaugh to get confirmed. One is Trump did not take the bait and get into a media fight with the Left over the fake charges. In fact, he remained remarkably quiet, even as the media tried everything to goad him. Maybe it is just his natural inclination to not go through the door his opponents open for him, but he seems to know that was part of the trap Feinstein, Katz and Bromwich had cooked up over the summer.
The other thing he did was put the whole thing on the Senate GOP, particularly Mitch McConnell. This was the key move. By explicitly saying he was leaving the issue to the Senate to resolve, the focus shifted from him to the Senate. More important, it put the Republicans in a bind. They could either face the wrath of the Left or they could face the wrath of their voters next month. Trump correctly figured out that survival still counts for something in the GOP, so McConnell had no choice but to get tough with the Left.
What this says is Trump is getting better at being president and better at using his brand as a weapon in Washington. I’ve said since the beginning that Trump is a very rare guy, who instinctively knows how others view him. He uses your perception of him as part of the sales pitch. It’s why many people find his boasting to be so amusing. When he does it, his supporters feel like they are in on the joke. They get that he knows it is boast and that it irritates the Left. He turns what his critics call a character flaw into an asset.
That’s the thing with understanding Trump, something a brilliant observer pointed out three years ago. Trump operates like a famous real estate developer. He is always looking to leverage his assets in order to take advantage of whatever opportunities that may present themselves in the future. In the case of the Kavanaugh hearing, his best play was to stand aside and let Mitch McConnell handle it. If the nomination failed, Trump had a card to play against his party. If the nomination went through, Trump could take credit.
This is not the 4-D chess nonsense the BoomerCons used to say. Trump is not a master strategist, in the sense that he is four moves ahead of everyone. It’s that his inclination is to always play the game, any game, in order to maximize his options when it is his next turn. That’s how the world of commercial real estate development works. You can never know what opportunities will present themselves next, so you make sure you are in a position to seize on whatever pops up. Trump’s applying this to Washington now.
You see this with the Rosenstein situation. The thorn in Trump’s side right now is Mueller, simply because he has the power to be a nuisance. Mueller is supervised by Rosenstein, who is clearly compromised in the FBI scandal. When Congress demanded the FBI documents be declassified, Trump was ready to leverage it. That gave him the excuse to review all of the requested material, without anyone claiming he was meddling in the investigation. It also forced Rostenstein to address what was in those documents.
At that point, Trump had leverage on Rosenstein. It’s why days after Trump decided to hold off on declassifying the documents, the left-wing media was running stories about how Rosenstein was going to be fired. Those stories most likely came from the camp of the conspirators. They just assumed that once Trump knew the facts, he would fly into a rage and fire the crooked Rosenstein. Instead, Trump put a saddle on him and is now riding him around Washington. Trump now controls Rosenstein and Mueller.
That’s unlikely the end game. I’ve always thought that Trump is waiting until after the election to make his next move in this thing. Instead, what he has been doing for the last year is maneuvering so that he has options no matter what happens next month. There’s a very good chance that what Congress has uncovered, what is in those secret files, implicates former Obama officials and maybe a few high ranking Democrats. That’s pretty good leverage for Trump if he is suddenly faced with a hostile House and Senate.
The other play if the election goes poorly is to simply dump all of it out during the lame duck session after the election. At which point he can fire Mueller and Rosenstein, while demanding Sessions appoint a second special prosecutor to handle the FBI scandal, including the role of Mueller and Rosenstein. That assumes there are some real bombshells hiding in those secret files. Given the panic in the FBI and DOJ about the effort to declassify them, it is a safe bet that there is some bad stuff in those files.
Of course, it is now looking like the brown wave the liberal media has been predicting is not going to happen. Left-wing outlets are now talking about maybe a very narrow House win and losses in the Senate. Given how the Left has fallen into a depression over the Kavanaugh loss, it is not out of the question that the GOP holds the House. Winning has a funny way of motivating the winners and demotivating the losers. If this momentum carries the GOP to victory next month, then the options for Trump multiply.