Donald Trump is the subject of an impeachment inquiry over allegations that he improperly sought help from Ukraine to boost his chances of re-election. This article examines POTUS´response in the context of activity surrounding the impeachment inquiry for the purposes of highlighting the behaviour of a narcissist. For the hard of understanding, this is not an article espousing the merits of President Trump or otherwise, this is a blog about narcissism and POTUS provides a prime example of one in action, a very powerful one. It is therefore for the purposes of wider understanding and education that this recent episode is used for the purpose of explaining what is actually at work.
The reportage is taken from BBC News. The highlighted comments are mine only.
What is the issue that is the focus of the impeachment inquiry?
Mr Trump is accused of breaking the law by pressuring Ukraine’s leader to dig up damaging information on a political rival.
In July, he urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate one of the frontrunners to take him on in next year’s presidential election. This matters because it is illegal to ask foreign entities for help in winning a US election.
An impeachment inquiry that could see the president eventually removed from office is under way.
But there is a fierce debate about whether Mr Trump broke the law or committed an impeachable offence – he himself says he has done nothing wrong.
It was supposed to be the kind of call a president makes multiple times a year.
Mr Trump says he called his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on 25 July to congratulate him on his recent election victory. Mr Zelensky, a former TV star with no political experience, was elected president in a landslide win in April.
But an anonymous whistleblower, reported to be a CIA official, felt there was something more serious in their exchange. They filed a formal complaint on 12 August explaining why they were so concerned.
In their letter, the whistleblower admitted that they did not directly witness the call but said accounts shared by other officials had painted a consistent picture.
For context, about a dozen people are reported to have listened in on the conversation, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
It’s important to note that the call occurred days after Mr Trump blocked about $391m (£316m) in military aid to Ukraine. Democrats argue this aid was used as a bargaining chip to pressure the new government in Kiev, but Mr Trump denies this.
The whistleblower’s complaint alleges that the president used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s presidential election (more on this later). They also alleged that White House officials had been “deeply disturbed” by the call and acted to “lock down” all details of it.
Amid the growing controversy, Mr Trump promised to release a “complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” he said would prove the call had been “totally appropriate”.
But the details disclosed by the White House were notes of the conversation. It was not a full, verbatim, account and it did little to quell the spiralling controversy. The whisteblower’s complaint was made public shortly after.
The transcript of the call showed that Mr Trump had urged Mr Zelensky to investigate discredited corruption allegations against former Vice-President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic frontrunner, as well as Mr Biden’s son.
Mr Trump and his allies have been suggesting that Mr Biden, as Barack Obama’s vice-president, encouraged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2015 because he had been investigating an energy company which employed Hunter Biden.
At the time, by working closely with foreign-owned entities while his father was in the White House, Hunter Biden was criticised for leaving his father exposed to suggestions of a possible conflict of interest. But no evidence has emerged that Mr Biden took any action to intentionally benefit his son.
The Ukrainian prosecutor who replaced the one who was fired told the BBC there was no reason for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and that any corruption with the company happened before Hunter Biden joined.
Mr Trump has pointed to a boast Mr Biden made in 2018 about how as vice-president he had threatened to withhold a billion dollars in aid from Ukraine unless the prosecutor was fired.
But motivation is key here. Mr Biden wanted him removed precisely because he was failing to crack down on corruption. And the vice-president was not acting alone, but rather as the focal point of a wider anti-corruption drive in Ukraine backed by the US government, European allies and the International Monetary Fund.
Mr Trump pressing a foreign leader to investigate the discredited allegations against Mr Biden is significant. This is because Mr Biden is the current favourite to win the Democratic nomination and, if chosen, he would be the man facing off against Mr Trump for the presidency in November 2020.
As Mr Biden is his biggest rival for the presidency, it opens Mr Trump up to claims he was working with a foreign power to influence the election. This – crucially – is against the law.
This is not the first time Mr Trump has been scrutinised over his foreign connections. His 2016 election campaign was investigated over its alleged ties to Russia. The inquiry did not establish a criminal conspiracy to influence the election, but it also did not exonerate the president.
The Democrats have launched a formal impeachment inquiry and have spared no time in getting to work. House Democrats demanded that five department officials – including the former US ambassador to Ukraine – appear for depositions in October.
The president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was subpoenaed for documents relating to Ukraine. Mr Giuliani has been central in pushing the allegations against the Bidens. Secretary Pompeo was also served with a subpoena.
So, this is the background to the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Is the action credible? It remains to be seen, it is of course entirely feasible that a narcissist would take such steps by involving a third party (including the leader of another country) to obtain damaging information against a political rival to prevent that rival running against him. The narcissist functions through requiring absolute control at all times. This is our viewpoint and must be maintained. This is achieved through the application of manipulations – some blunt and obvious and some virtually undetectable.
The type of manipulation we use depends upon the relevant school of narcissist (Lesser, Mid-Range or Greater) , the level of threat to our control caused by the appliance (person) and how in control we already feel (unconsciously) prior to the threat arising. We require control and fuel, fuel denoting that we have control and enabling us to feel powerful.
Everything revolves around this.
Accordingly, recognising that a political rival might unseat him, President Trump feels that his control is threatened. He therefore must assert control and one way of doing so would be to remove the threat to his control posed by his opponent. One way of doing this would be to damage that opponent´s campaign and credibility, by digging up information to be used against that opponent. This allows control to be asserted.
If (and this has yet to be established) President Trump took this step of seeking damaging information from the leader of the Ukraine, he did do in order to assert control over Mr Biden.
The ongoing actions of the Democrats will also threaten President Trump´s sense of control. Thus, as a narcissist, he is duty-bound to reject these threats to his control. A narcissist might do this by smearing or by giving a person a silent treatment or by issuing an insult. There are hundreds of different ways that control is sought. The majority of narcissists are unaware that this is what they are doing, they have a conscious belief that they are only acting this way because, usually, it is the fault of the person who is causing the unconscious threat to their control.
Thus, the wife of a narcissist asks “Where have you been? It is 2am in the morning and you said you would be home at 8pm.” From her position, she is not being unreasonable in demanding to know where he has been.
Her husband, a narcissist, does not hear what she says and thinks
“She is right. I said I would be home by 8pm and I have just wandered in at 2am smelling of alcohol and perfume. No wonder she is angry. I will explain and apologise.”
The husbands narcissism, at an unconscious level, if it could speak would say
“This appliance is trying to control us by limiting our sense of entitlement to do what we want. It is also trying to blame us and therefore make us accountable. We also have no emotional empathy for her anger, upset and concern. Accordingly, this means she is trying to control us and make us feel powerless. This must be stopped by all and any means possible.”
Understand this is an unconscious response. The narcissist is not thinking this, his narcissism instead “lets” him think
“Jesus, she is such a nag. All I did was hang out at the bar for a while, why is she getting on my case. No wonder I go there to escape this harridan. Who does she think she is telling me what to do, she is out of order, I am going to put her in her place.” He then argues with her going round and round, shouting at her, labelling her controlling and a killjoy. He is manipulating her (although he does not see this), in his mind he is defending himself and pointing out her failings. He is using provocation, blame shifting, verbal insult, circular conversations as manipulations until tired and frustrated she gives in and tells him to “forget it, she is just a horrible cow.” The narcissist now has control and he halts the argument because in his world, he now has won.
With that comparison in a domestic setting involving a narcissist, how does this play out with regard to The President of the United States and his need for control at all times, when this control is threatened by the actions of the Democrats? Let’s see.
US President Donald Trump has lashed out at congressional Democrats after they vowed to summons the White House to produce documents this week. (The lashing out is the response to the threat to control. It is instinctive (in this case) and has to be visceral and immediate)
Committees are demanding documents relating to the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, which is now at the heart of an impeachment inquiry.
The president accused Democratic leaders of dishonesty and even treason. (Provocation. It may be the case that the allegations against President Trump are baseless. A more evolved narcissist would state as such, issuing a bare denial, use words such as “without foundation”, “baseless” or “unproven”. Such pejorative language evidences the heated response arising from the ignition of fury caused by these acts threatening President Trump´s control. At this point in time, it does not matter if the allegations are correct or not, what matters is that the very fact of merely STATING them threatens control and results in this response.)
Democrats have defended the inquiry – which focuses on a phone call between Mr Trump’s and the Ukrainian president.
During a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Mr Trump called Mr Biden and his son, Hunter, “stone-cold corrupt”. (Again Provocation through a pejorative comment. Even if Biden and his son turn about to be corrupt (so far there is no legal action against them with regard to corruption) the use of this language in such a forceful manner by someone who is supposedly a statesman demonstrates the rudimentary response to asserting control. If President Obama (also a narcissist but of a different school) faced this scenario, his response would have used completely different language if the allegations had even seen the light of day).
Mr Trump directed much of his anger towards House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, calling him “shifty Schiff, “a lowlife” and saying he “should resign from office in disgrace”. (Further response to the need for control – again using Insulting Labels as a form provocation. This haughty response is also indicative of his narcissism).
He added: “Frankly, they should look at him for treason.” (Provocation)
Mr Trump also stated that he believed Mr Schiff had “helped write” a complaint about the call filed by a whistleblower, without offering evidence. (Evidence of paranoia, the failure to offer evidence is a common response of President Trump´s school, this is because (a) his word and belief is his evidence (grandiosity and his narcissistic perspective) and (b) he does not actually need “evidence” (in the sense as understood by non-narcissists) to assert control in this particular instance. All he needs to do is declare that there is a conspiracy against him and that enables him (absent any immediate response which was the case here) to assert control.
The US president told reporters that only “legitimate” whistleblowers should be protected. (This splitting of the type of whistleblower essentially states “Anybody who whistle blows in relation to me and my regime has no legitimacy and they are wrong (in my universe)
“This country has to find out who this person was, because that person’s a spy, in my opinion,” Mr Trump said. (Absolutely the case – a spy against the United State of Donald Trump, a treacherous, disloyal and untrustworthy individual, the view that narcissists take of those who threaten our control.)
He labelled the entire inquiry a “hoax” and a “fraudulent crime on the American people” while maintaining he would “always co-operate” with Congress. (More labelling in order to assert control and to reduce the credibility of the enquiry. Note the worldview of other people being an extension of the narcissist – Trump sees the American people as part of him and therefore the crime against him is also a crime against the American people. This is also grandiosity.)
The US president also sparred at the White House with a Reuters correspondent, who asked him what he considered treasonous. (Although The BBC report does not state the exact words used in this exchange with the Reuters correspondent, it is described as sparring (not a discussion or a debate but the more pugilistic sparring which demonstrates a back and forth between President Trump and the correspondent. The correspondent doubtless was disagreeing with President Trump and providing him with Challenge Fuel, this would threaten Trump´s perception of control leading him to respond in his usual robust and direct style by arguing to put down the “act of rebellion” which manifests in the correspondents attempt to reject control.
As the Finnish leader looked on, Mr Trump said “there are those who think I’m a very stable genius” and said he “probably will be bringing a lot of litigation” against those who participated in the Russia investigation. (Grandiosity – note it is not stated who has actually referred to him as a very stable genius. This comment also appears to be something of a non sequitur in the press conference which shows how Trump has a differing perception of the world to the others there. In his world, it was necessary to assert his status as a very stable genius in order to get control. Furthermore, the comment about litigation is the Use of Threat, again to gain control in the moment. If he gains it, he will not embark on litigation however, should the allegations persists (which they most likely will) litigation will follow.
When the reporter pressed Mr Trump, the US president cut him off, saying: “Don’t be rude.” (Haughtiness, Interruption, Projection.)
Earlier, Mr Trump raged at the most powerful elected Democrat, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Mr Schiff on Twitter, accusing Democrats of focusing on “BULLSHIT”.
The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!
(President Trump´s use of Twitter is notorious as an outlet by which he seeks to gain control over people. He is in effect hoovering those who read his tweets and those he believes will read his tweets (which will be a large number given his status) and in so doing this act of hoovering is to assert control. In this instance, Nancy Pelosi as a Democrat challenges Trump´s control because of the existence of the impeachment inquiry. Trump must respond and he does so with this tweet, this is done because
1. He needs a swift response and an electronic hoover through Twitter enables this,
2. It is easy to do – he just types and sends. This ease caters both to speed and also the economy of effort beloved of Lazy Lessers and Minimum Effort Mid Range Narcissists)
3. He is haughty, dismissive and insulting, using a profanity (hardly the language of diplomacy or statesmanship) but entirely in keeping with his school of narcissism
4. He attacks his opponents, rather than the argument, the typical ad hominem response of his school of narcissist.
5. More grandiosity as he reminds everybody of his “overwhelming election” win (it is unnecessary for this reminder to be issued, people know he won, that is why he is President, but it is part of his grandiosity which is used to assert control)
Mr Trump said Mrs Pelosi should focus on her own city, San Francisco, which he described as a “tent city” of homeless people. (Homelessness is an issue in San Francisco (like many cities) but a homeless population of 9 784 out of a population of 884 367 does not equate to a tent city. That of course does not matter, what matters is the need for control and this is sought by an exaggerated insult towards the individual threatening control, Mrs Pelosi and her city.)
Democrats have accused the White House of blocking congressional inquiries and refusing to respond to record requests, which has prompted the subpoena threat this week.
House oversight committee chairman Elijah Cummings said in a memo: “I do not take this step lightly.
“Over the past several weeks, the committees tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents, but the White House has refused to engage with – or even respond to – the committees.” (Note the refusal to engage or respond to the committees demonstrates a sense of entitlement, a haughtiness, a lack of accountability and is all done to assert control. The failure to respond is a giant Silent Treatment, another manipulation.)
The subpoena will request documents on Mr Trump’s call with Ukraine and any related items from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schiff held a joint news conference on Wednesday, defending the impeachment proceedings.
“We’re not fooling around here,” Mr Schiff said, adding that Democrats did not want the inquiry to “drag on”.
He also criticised the president’s comments against the whistleblower as “a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses” and “an incitement of violence”. (This is what it appears to be, but it is actually all about seeking to assert and maintain control, to counter threats to control, control and fuel being the very things all narcissists must have – to learn more about why read To Control Is To Cope
Mr Schiff has also issued a statement saying his committee never reviewed or received the whistleblower’s complaint in advance, as Mr Trump claimed.
Accordingly, this latest episode in the Trump Administration once again shows A Very POTUS Narcissist at work and providing clear examples of how President Trump´s narcissism operates.
Will he be impeached? Firstly, Congress has to pass articles of impeachment and if that passes then the Senate must hold a trial. The Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict and since President Trump´s party controls the chamber, it is unlikely he will be impeached. You might think he would sit tight and ignore the process or co-operate, content in the knowledge that his party will ensure he is not impeached, but he cannot do this. Why? Firstly, he does not, like Mid Range or Greater Narcissists operate a facade, what you see is direct, robust and in your face (part of his voter appeal also) therefore he sees no need to be the statesman (something evidence repeatedly in his interactions and comments with other world leaders and politicians). Secondly, if there is an impeachment trial, that is some way off and it is the process and allegations NOW which he must respond to in order to assert control, hence the various (base) manipulations that were witnessed above.
Trump will fight to remain in situ and in power. His narcissism dictates that must be the case and by any means possible. The manipulations will continue and will in all likelihood increase in size, intensity and scope.