Cegielski’s views are confirmed by Cheri Jacobus, a GOP strategist who had meetings with Trump’s campaign about becoming its communications director. “I believe Trump senses he is in over his head and doesn’t really want the nomination,” she told me. “He wanted to help his brand and have fun, but not to be savaged by the Clintons if he’s the candidate. He wouldn’t mind falling short of a delegate majority, losing the nomination, and then playing angry celebrity victim in the coming years.”
To all outward appearances, Trump seems to be engaged in a form of self-sabotaging behavior in which people both move toward a goal and then from deep within do things to defeat themselves.
Even Trump’s friends are wondering what’s going on. “I can tell you, having worked for Trump for almost forty years, on and off, no one puts words in his mouth,” longtime Trump strategist Roger Stone told GQ magazine this week. “Trump is better than his campaign. . . . So only Trump can tell you why Trump does the things Trump does.”
Last fall, as Trump rose to giddying heights in the polls, a group of his staffers sat around the office imagining what the reaction of their boss would be if he actually won the presidency. One told me: “We concluded that he really would say, ‘Guys, what did you do to me? I had a great life. Now I have to move to the White House?’”