(CNN)While millions of Americans have been enjoying the holiday season, President Donald Trump has indulged in nasty name-calling aimed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and has been whining like a 4-year-old who didn’t get the toy he wanted.
On Wednesday, the President retweeted a link to an article that includes a name for the purported whistleblower, whose identity has not been confirmed.
The whistleblower filed an anonymous complaint alleging the White House tried to cover up the President’s effort to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on his rival Joe Biden. Trump soliciting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the July 25 phone call is what set Pelosi down the road to impeachment, but like so many rule breakers, Trump blames the guy who turned him in, instead of examining his own behavior.
A more reasonable commander-in-chief, one worthy of the title, would absorb the lesson in the humiliation of impeachment, realize “I am still President of the United States” and seek stability, if not redemption.
Donald Trump, however, has shown himself to be energetically defiant and incapable of reform. Faced with the Senate impeachment trial in the upcoming year, Trump is likely to become more destructive. His victims will include us all.
The future will also be determined by whatever devious plots Trump may set in motion with his chief enabler, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. As Trump’s personal lawyer and international wrecking ball, Giuliani shows no sign of ending his mischief-making in Ukraine or dialing back his bizarre behavior.
He recently directed several anti-Semitic tropes at billionaire philanthropist George Soros — who has long been a target of right-wing conspiracy theories. Giuliani, a lifelong Catholic, claimed he’s “more of a Jew” than Soros, who is a Holocaust survivor. He also made unfounded claims that Soros controls former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, FBI agents and district attorneys, which perpetuates anti-Semitic tropes that powerful Jews control the government.
It seems safe to assume the President is willing to do whatever it takes to influence the 2020 election in his favor. He is remarkably vigorous and forward looking when it comes to rigging the games he plays and he must be committed to reelection in a way he’s never been committed to anything before.
This is likely a matter of pride, since showing the world it is wrong about him is his reason for being. It may also be a legal strategy. Reelection would guarantee his presidential powers, including the ability to grant pardons to those who know things he’d rather keep secret.
What might Trump have in mind as he approaches the 2020 elections? Trump could use his executive authority, including the direction of law enforcement agencies, or the use of executive orders to try to go after his rivals or gain an advantage. Since he tends to accuse others of the very misdeeds he commits himself, Trump’s discredited claims of being spied on by the FBI or the previous administration may indicate that such surveillance may be on his mind.
The good news is that Trump has lost the services of some of the minions who once helped stir things up for him. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two Soviet-born businessman who were Giuliani’s allies, are cases in point. They face their own legal peril — both have pleaded not guilty to campaign finance charges — and at least one of them, Parnas, is cooperating with authorities.
Further cause for optimism lies in the positive response received by those who came forward to testify during the House impeachment investigation. Public servants and political figures who helped establish the record that led to impeachment have earned wide appreciation. Surely other government officials lie in wait, ready to come forward.
Finally, the House of Representatives and the speaker have established themselves as a bulwark for democracy and the American system of checks and balances. In less than a year they have proven themselves capable of organizing, investigating and prosecuting a most difficult case.
Consider the President’s capacity for stonewalling — he blocked many of the witnesses Congress subpoenaed and refused to turn over documents — and their accomplishment looms even larger. In his long career of chaos, no opposing force has ever brought Trump under control so effectively.
The impeachment of Donald Trump was a demonstration of congressional power that should reassure us. Yes, he will continue his campaign of chaos and make the coming election year more disturbing than 2016 but there is now an opposing force. Conflict lies ahead, but so does hope.