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Donald Trump is about to be the subject of an extreme pressure test—hunkered down in the White House fending off a barrage of explosive revelations emanating from the Russia probe, multiple investigations by the House Democratic majority, and various lawsuits wending their way through the courts.

Trump’s main mode of combat will naturally be the fusillade at his fingertips, and as vindictive, paranoid, and rage-filled as those tweets will be, they will also be a window into Trump’s greatest fears. Trump’s most desperate moments inevitably express themselves as projections on to others.

Exhibit A was Trump’s retweet last week of all is his perceived enemies, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, behind bars.

As the website Good Therapy explains:

Projection is a psychological defense mechanism in which individuals attribute characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to another person. For example, a husband who has a hostile nature might attribute this hostility to his wife and say she has an anger management problem.

From that perspective, it’s also notable that the image Trump retweeted included two past presidents peering out from the clinker.

Trump redistributed that jail tweet in the early morning hours last Wednesday following the Monday implosion of Paul Manafort’s plea deal with the special counsel and the Thursday bombshell that Cohen had struck a plea agreement with Mueller. Though the White House reportedly wasn’t notified about the Cohen deal by the Justice Department until Wednesday evening, it’s entirely possible Trump got wind of something early.

As Trump tried rather desperately to deflect questions Thursday about Cohen’s admission he had lied about the Moscow Trump Tower deal, he stressed what a “weak person” Cohen was.

“He’s a weak person, and what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it.”

To his core, Trump is petrified of being seen as weak and he’s even more petrified of simply being weak. So as the storm clouds gathered over the White House last week, Trump cast the man who is now arguably the biggest threat to him and his family as detestably “weak.”

This is one of Trump’s biggest tells whenever he’s feeling particularly pressured. Remember this spring when the Washington Post revealed the identity of the supposed campaign-embedded “spy” who tipped off the FBI about the Trump camp’s close ties to Russia? Following that revelation, Trump repeatedly tried to turn the revelation into a  “SPYGATE” scandal in order to discredit the Cambridge professor who had gone to the FBI.

As Trump was being asked about the May disclosure, his answers regarding his concocted scandal looked far more like something a sane person might say about the Russia probe.

“It looks like a very serious event,” Trump told reporters. “When they look at the documents, I think people are going to see a lot of bad things happened.”

He also said of his FBI Director that day: “I think James Comey has got a lot of problems. If you look at what at he did, if you look at all of the lies—the tremendous lies—if you look at all that’s going on, I think James Comey has got a lot of problems.”

Tremendous lies, eh?

More recently, Trump made a last-ditch effort to salvage GOP chances in the midterms by painting Democrats as “an angry left-wing mob.”

“The Democrats have become too extreme. And they’ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They’ve gone wacko,” Trump said at a mid-October Iowa rally where his supporters reveled in hurling their standard “Lock her up!” chants at Hillary Clinton, now a private citizen. He also said of Sen. Elizabeth Warren that Democrats had “gone so far left that they consider ‘Pocahontas’ a rational person. No, it’s crazy!”

He promised that in four weeks, “you will have a chance to render your verdict on the Democrats’ outrageous conduct.”

The country rendered it’s verdict on some “outrageous conduct” alright.

So as Mueller and Democrats tighten the screws over the coming months and Trump is really feeling the squeeze, watch for him to be spewing some epic projectile projection. Whenever Trump says anything that sounds like a classic description of him, his associates, and his GOP enablers, just remember that it’s a huge tell about what’s keeping him up at night.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. The paradox here is that tRump actually doesn’t find any of his own socially objectionable personality characteristics to be unacceptable! He revels in them. Of course the projection comes from a subliminal level. None the less, he is projecting what he thinks others criticize him for being.


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