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Donald Trump’s cognitive disconnect

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It’s remarkable just how little capacity Donald Trump seems to have for understanding the criminal investigations into him. The media is revealing important clues about Jack Smith’s criminal probe that could be strategically valuable to Trump in terms of forming a defense stagey ahead of trial. Yet Trump just can’t understand any of what’s being reported.

The media reports about Jack Smith targeting Trump for financial fraud are sourced to subpoena recipients. The media reports about Stephen Miller testifying are based on the media having seen him entering and exiting the courthouse. Trump would know this if he had even so much as read the first paragraphs of these news articles, where the sourcing was clearly stated. Instead Trump is merely ranting about how Smith is “leaking” these things – an approach that gets Trump nowhere because it’s so obviously untrue.

If you were under serious but secretive criminal investigation, and the media was reporting major clues about what the prosecution was doing behind the scenes, you’d be sure to read those reports so you’d know what you were up against. Anyone would do that.

Except Trump. He’s not even reading so much as the first paragraph of these news articles, or he’s not understanding what he’s reading. He’s obviously aware of these news reports. He just doesn’t know what’s in them. He’s somehow certain that it’s Smith who’s leaking this stuff.

It’s as if Trump is cut off from any direct contact with news reporting, and is instead being fed watered down bite size versions of these reports. His babysitters are just giving him the headlines, and then falsely telling him (or letting him falsely infer) whatever details he wants to hear about it.

The people around Trump – presumably including his own defense attorneys – have clearly decided there’s no point in trying to keep Trump briefed on what’s really going on, and that it’s better to treat him like a child and keep his spirits up by giving him what he wants to hear.

And they’re right, there is no point. Because if Trump had any wits remaining about him, he’d be reading these crucial news articles about the criminal cases against him, like any mentally competent person would, to try to figure out what’s happening to him.


Trump is in the fight of his life, and he’s not even trying. He lacks the cognitive capacity to understand any of what’s happening. He feels no hope of surviving it. So he’s clinging to a simplistic, preferable fantasy version of events while his world crumbles.

That’s great news if you want to see Donald Trump taken down, because it means he’s not even trying to save himself. He may think he’s trying, but his own rants give away that he’s operating in a fantasy world that has nothing to do with the very real criminal jeopardy he’s facing. It’s just remarkable to see how thoroughly he’s given up, and how thoroughly he’s settled for fantasizing about magic rescue strategies instead.

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