Could Trump’s mental state have been so ravaged that he was unaware of Russian collusion?

This is something polite society doesn’t like to talk about, but the president is not well. Forget the “Goldwater Rule,” cloistered in a phalanx of underlings and lawyers. It’s obvious and unavoidable that there is something not quite right about him. The president is an afflicted man with fewer good days ahead than he has behind. As sleazy and shady as he acts toward the Russia scandal that has enveloped his administration, judging from his frazzled and inept behavior since assuming office, it’s now clear that he couldn’t manage his way out a paper bag. It would be impossible for him to run an operation as large and complicated as an international, treasonous conspiracy to steal an election.

Whether it’s his own vocabulary that has degenerated, gibberish tweets about Democrats holding up nominations he hasn’t yet made, wandering away from world leaders on camera, not being able to recognize his own supporters in meetings, and, hell, even having to hold cabinet meetings to remind him of who he has appointed, something has gone wrong in the president’s mind.

The stories of White House aides trying in vain to manage his temper and behavior are frightening but also, well, kind of entertaining. He’s made fake deals with domestic companies and foreign nations, thrown blank pieces of paper around a stage, called the Republican healthcare repeal bill “mean” after cheering it’s passage, tweeted made-up words like “covfefe,” only to have his aides rush to somehow explain it. He’s not an active commander-in-chief. He’s a figurehead. It’s like telling an old man with Alzheimer’s that you already fed the birds in the park earlier today. He’s just not fully there.

Trump has been screaming at the television, verbally abusing aides, and claims to anyone with the misfortune to have to listen about how he’s a victim of a vast conspiracy orchestrated by the “deep state.” His cognitive deterioration has gotten so bad he literally can’t keep track of his own lies. His mental illness has already spread throughout the country, even down to children.

Attorneys who might have helped protect him from the encroaching Russia investigation have turned him down, and it’s got nothing to do will his inability to pay his bills. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is essentially running foreign policy by himself. Trump’s own economic advisers are saying the president doesn’t speak for the administration. World leaders have lost faith in him and are pretending he doesn’t exist.

Things are bad. He is not well. The president is sick and not in the normal funny way. He is suffering from something beyond his control. He has gained weight, become more bitter than he already was, and has withdrawn from public life as much as one president can. Yet, for all Trump’s erratic bitchiness, with rarely a kind word for anyone, he has still miraculously gone out of his way to never say anything negative about Vladmir Putin.

Even before being elected president, Trump had a Bill Clinton thing going. He was a lawless pussy-snatcher with an uncanny ability to skate by with just the bare minimum to win, and his greatest vice is self-centered scandal. He thrives on drama. Like Whitewater, the Russian investigation may prove there was never any there there. Since in Trump’s case there’s definitely something there, this defining scandal might be more like Reagan’s Iran-Contra. He maybe kind-of sort-of knew about it but just wanted to feed off the seemingly never ending worldwide attention and let his daffy, bizarro lieutenants do whatever they had to do — all the while allowing the hopelessly lost and demented candidate to claim plausible deniability. But then you’d have to ignore literally everything Trump has ever uttered on the matter, his conduct since the investigation began, and the the endless parade of friends, family, campaign aides and buffoons who keep having to lawyer up. Taken together, it creates a hell of a suspects list: Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn and god knows who else.

Flynn is facing so much jail time, there are rumors he has already flipped. Trump’s loyalty to Flynn, on its face, doesn’t make sense. He’s thrown everyone possible under the bus, but his protection of Flynn, whom he hasn’t known for very long, is unexplainable. The president has been more loyal to Flynn than his first two wives.

How bad does the Russian collusion have to be for the president to hang his balls out in the wind so many times for Mike Flynn? What is he actually trying to hide? Is it just piss tapes, or something worse? You can’t really give Trump the benefit of the doubt for firing James Comey when the investigation could have exonerated him. Which means it can’t. It means some bad shit went down.

Donald Trump,David Shulkin

Which brings us to Nixon territory. Hearings on the 37th president’s Watergate-related scandals took years. This is moving in weeks if not days. And those days seem to last forever. It’s genuinely hard to remember when which scandal and disaster happened first, and it must be even more confusing for our bewildered, confused, possibly brain-damaged president. It’s clear now why there was no epic retaliation to the Russian hacking by the Obama administration. They were preserving a crime scene, one that included American suspects.

What is still yet to be known is if the president was technically obstructing justice or was merely ignorant when he asked Comey and two of his intelligence officials to cover for him in the Russia scandal. Either way, at best he’s an idiot, and at worst, he’s guilty of historic, unthinkable crimes of which we’re only beginning to scratch the surface.

Until 2016, Trump was a mad sorcerer locked away in a tower for too long, a pariah ostracized from the New York society that wouldn’t have him, occasionally hurling flaming tweets down at the masses. Last year was time for Trump to cast his spell on the insane hordes that made up the Republican Party. What took place in the campaign was a kind of hypnotism of the masses, for what purpose even the man himself might not know. All he knew was that his burden of insanity had to be shared. His spell spread throughout the GOP and permeated everything and everyone in the country with all the emotional tranquility of a prison riot. What was once order and discipline is now chaos and anarchy, presided over by a self-destructive mad king.

Is it possible to have sympathy for such a beleaguered, unwell, overmatched, clearly ill man who accidentally won the presidency? The answer is fuck no. We are so far past sympathy. We’re numb to it. He didn’t have dementia when he went after all those women, or when he canceled the health insurance for his handicapped nephew. He’s a hateful, bad person. He always has been. He didn’t enter politics to help anyone or make the world a better place than when he found it. His madness has only seemed to reveal how vile a human being he always was and how bankrupt the party is who chose him, a compromised and infirm elder to advance their corrupt agenda.

As the Russia investigation slowly tears the administration apart, Trump is getting what he deserves, no matter how horribly handicapped he may be. It would be an equally sick, sad and sweet victory to watch this decrepit old man go down in flames and possibly still be just conscious enough to know how bad things got. I can think of no greater torment; and the thing is, for all his legendary creative sadism, neither can he.

[photos: AP]