Mooch to Trump: Time to hit reverse, pal

When you’ve lost the Mooch … Few would appreciate the contrarian nature of Donald Trump more than Anthony Scaramucci, but even the Mooch has his limits. The man who briefly ran Trump’s White House messaging team says “he has to reverse course immediately … before the concrete starts to set on this thing.” Someone needs to tell Trump the truth about his presser yesterday, he tells CNN’s Alisyn Camerota:

Scaramucci accurately diagnoses the issue by noting that Trump has “conflated Russian collusion with Russian meddling.” The first didn’t happen, Scaramucci believes, but the second most definitely did — and Putin was behind it. Yesterday wasn’t just a PR failure, it was a strategic mistake that was allowed to happen because Trump got his ego tangled up in the summit:

“If you’re loyal to the president, which I happen to be very loyal to the president,” he says, “loyalty right now requires you to tell the truth.” Clearly, Scaramucci would prefer to nominate himself as the loyal-yet-truthful aide who explains to the boss that, despite his tailor’s assurances, he’s wearing no clothes. Loyalty isn’t enough, however — one also has to have credibility, something Scaramucci squandered in the White House during his eleven-day reign of error last year. Even if he’s right, and Scaramucci is correct here, he’s not going to be the man to fill that role.

So who is? Newt Gingrich may be the one man to whom Trump might listen, and he wasn’t pleased with the Vladimir Putin presser either. At least on Twitter, Gingrich seemed ready to do some truth-telling to the boss:

Three hours later, Newt seemed ready to change the subject:

Will Trump take any of this advice? Scaramucci argues that it’s likely to cost Trump some of his soft support. On the other hand, Trump has heard that a lot over the last three years, and he won the presidency anyway. On these kinds of issues, it’s been his critics who ended up with no clothes when they tried to predict how the American electorate would react to Trump’s follies. Trump has a very consistent track record of brazening it out and letting his opponents’ overreactions carry him through these mistakes.

That works when it’s just about electoral politics, however. In this case, it’s about American honor and American sovereignty — two qualities which contribute mightily to the MAGA theme. It might not be so easy to slough this one off, which means that Trump will have to show some toughness vis-a-vis Putin whether he likes it or not. Trump won’t admit error, but watch for some other show of strength such as new sanctions or troop movements in eastern Europe as a means to diminish the blowback from yesterday. That’s as close as Trump will get to a “reversal” from yesterday’s summit denouement.