For half a century, he has believed that by refusing to be weighed down by precedent or procedure, he is liberated to come across as the brash truth-teller that the public craves. He has long said that he doesn’t care whether people believe he is dumb, ill-informed or a nasty rule-breaker; if his actions built up his bottom line, they were justified, he’d say.
Trump appears to have expected that his sudden and dramatic sacking of FBI Director James B. Comey on Tuesday might be greeted the way audiences relished his ritual firings of job applicants on his hit TV show, “The Apprentice” — as a sign of power serving truth, and in this case as a politically incorrect roundhouse punch that Republicans and Democrats alike would welcome.
If the president didn’t see that his precipitous firing of the man in charge of investigating the Trump campaign’s connections with the Russian regime might instead alienate some of his allies and outrage much of the public, that’s no anomaly. Rather, it’s an illustration of several of the president’s core character traits — a belief that the past doesn’t matter, a penchant to act swiftly and unilaterally, and a conviction that even the most unpopular actions can help build his brand.