Plausible deniability: The drug that President Trump can’t stop abusing

The controversy in recent days over Trump’s tweets shows exactly what he’s doing: He is constantly trolling by saying something highly suggestive — of sexism against Mika Brzezinski or of violence against CNN — and then waits for the media and his opponents to pounce before claiming persecution.

Trump is actually pretty good at this. No, I don’t think the strategy is all that effective or fruitful in the grand scheme of things, but he has at least executed his chosen strategy well. Throughout the course of his presidency, he has repeatedly gone right up to the line of doing something he cannot possibly explain, while always leaving himself an out — enough plausible deniability for the people who think he’s great to go right on thinking that.