The Slatest

Trump State-of-Mind Impeachment Reporting Reveals He’s No Longer “Increasingly Isolated”

Trump looks down and turns away from a handful of American flags in the background.
Who knows what Donald Trump is thinking these days. Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial kicked off Tuesday, but, unlike the first go-around , Trump is now an ex-president, not to mention an ex-Twitter user. The first moments of Trump’s impeachment defense put on by his ragtag legal team were cringingly bad. So bad, in fact, that it’s hard not to think: Whoo, boy, the big guy must be angry. But what does Trump think of this amateurish defense of his amateurish presidency? It’s been just a single month since Trump was booted from his social media platform of choice, and, in the meantime, he lost the extreme press attention that comes with the presidency. Suddenly, Trump is nowhere. Without threatening tweets to obsess over or West Wing staff leaks to parse, all we have now are vague secondhand reports of Trump golfing by day and, by night, surely stroking a pet tiger while watching Fox News from a gold-plated commode. But beyond that, who knows!

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As a sign of just how far off the grid Trump has drifted in the past several weeks, we turn to the “Trump state-of-mind” genre of media reporting cultivated during the past four years, best known for its Trump trope: “Trump is increasingly isolated.” Trump is occasionally frothing, sometimes fuming, and often furious—but always “increasingly isolated.” Each of the big three pioneers of this brand of Trump soothsaying, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and CNN, all went back to the well on Day One of impeachment No. 2 to try to divine what exactly the former president is thinking as the last days of his presidency are paraded in front of the American people?

So what is Trump thinking? Not much, it seems.

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From the Washington Post: Trump is “disappointed.”

Trump was especially disappointed in the performance of his lawyer Bruce Castor, who gave a rambling argument, wore an ill-fitting suit and at one point praised the case presented by the Democratic House impeachment managers, two people involved in the effort said. The former president—monitoring the trial on television from Florida—had expected a swashbuckling lawyer and instead watched what was a confusing and disjointed performance.

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The New York Times adds that Trump has had “meetings,” but that, per usual, he was “angry.”

Mr. Trump was said to have meetings that were put on his calendar to coincide with his defense team’s presentation and keep him occupied. But he still managed to catch his two lawyers, Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David I. Schoen, on television—and he did not like what he saw, according to two people briefed on his reaction… Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.

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CNN, for its part, used slightly more colorful descriptions of “Trump was angry.”

Former President Donald Trump was unhappy with his impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor’s opening argument on the Senate floor Tuesday, two people familiar with his reaction told CNN … Trump was almost screaming as Castor struggled to get at the heart of his defense team’s argument, which is supposed to be over the constitutionality of holding a trial for a president no longer in office … An adviser to Trump’s team offered a candid assessment of the messy opening day, asking pointedly, “What the hell is going on?”

What is going on? Watching TV? B-minus level angry? Almost screaming? Which, in other words, means: talking. This is the type of reporting that has only one real takeaway: Trump is no longer “increasingly isolated”; he’s all alone. Other than the tiger, of course.

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