Portrait of the president as a gangster

The single most striking motif throughout the second volume of Mueller’s report is the extent to which Trump relies on cutouts to exercise his will. He habitually keeps a layer of separation between himself and his decisions. We’ve seen this already with Christie and Lewandowski. But it happens over and over and over.

For instance, when Trump decided to fire Jeff Sessions, instead of simply firing Jeff Sessions, he commands Reince Priebus to get Sessions to resign (page 96). Why not just call Sessions himself?

After it was revealed in the media that Trump had told Don McGahn to terminate the special counsel, Trump dispatched Rob Porter to request that McGahn write a letter for the record denying that Trump had given that order (page 115). Why wouldn’t Trump make that request of McGahn himself? He was clearly talking to McGahn frequently.

Yet even when Trump acts, he often looks to pass the decision off as someone else’s. Consider the firing of James Comey.