Opinion

Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

The greatest self-inflicted witch hunt in history

US President Donald Trump waves as he walks towards Marine One while departing the White House on May 17, 2017 in Washington, DC en route to Connecticut. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier DoulieryOLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump waves after he addressed the US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut on Wednesday.

I’m not going out on much of a limb to say “the greatest single witch hunt” in American history was that actual witch hunt in Salem that ended in the execution of 20 people, including the government official who refused to arrest more innocents.

President Trump may have missed that chapter in American history. Our poor embattled president, bless his Trump-branded silken socks, tweeted Thursday morning that he’s the victim of the greatest American witch hunt ever.

It’s actually more “like a witch hunt where the witch’s staff defended the witch & then the witch went on TV, told Lester Holt: ‘I am a witch’ & then tweeted it,” Brian Klass, author of “The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy,” tweeted in response.

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The president who single-handedly transformed the Washington news cycle into a nausea-inducing churn of endless shoes dropping with every new revelation and statement — many from his own lips or Twitter fingers — ranging from the immature and unethical to the unbalanced and potentially criminal, is convinced he’s the victim.

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The president who admitted to firing FBI Director James Comey because he was irritated by his “showboat” probe into “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia” is the victim. The president, who may have sought to obstruct justice, according to Comey’s notes, by pressing him to drop the inquiry into then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (who Trump’s team knew was under investigation and had taken half a million dollars to lobby for Turkey, but appointed him anyway), is the victim. The president who admits he shared highly classified intelligence on ISIS with Russia in the Oval Office, without permission from the ally who provided that information, the revelation of which could now jeopardize a critical source, is the victim.

The extraordinary thing is Trump’s predicament is entirely self-inflicted, stemming from decisions made and actions taken by the chief executive and his senior staff.

So now, less than four months into Trump’s administration, his actions have led to the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller, a famously nonpartisan, nonshowboat straight arrow who served George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as special counsel to investigate “this Russia thing.”

Politicians from both parties cheered the move, saying Mueller can restore confidence in the investigation, whatever the findings. Trump tweeted angrily, “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!”

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We don’t know what alleged crimes he’s referring to, but Trump brought the special counsel upon himself. Here’s something he can ask Hillary Clinton: How did that special counsel work out for your husband? Kenneth Starr was appointed in 1994 to investigate the Whitewater land deal, and his probe morphed into the Monica Lewinsky affair and Bill Clinton’s impeachment by the House four years later over perjury and obstruction of justice.

In other words, you never know where things end up.

Trump told cadets graduating from the US Coast Guard Academy Wednesday that life is “not always fair.” Lest he give out too much valuable advice for free, he brought it back to himself. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

Perhaps he’s unfamiliar with the history of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Julius Caesar, to name a few. Senator John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who was captured in Vietnam, tortured and imprisoned for five years (and was mocked by the draft-avoiding Trump for having been a “loser” POW), scoffed: “I’ve been worse treated than President Trump has.”

Recently, McCain referred to the potentially game-changing revelations piling up about Trump’s White House as “a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop.”

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This centipede owns more shoes than Imelda Marcos, and we can only guess what happens when they all drop.

Indira A.R. Lakshmanan’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow her on @Indira_L