Follow the intent.

With Trump the usual advice of “Follow the money.” doesn’t work because Congress refuses to force him to disclose his conflicts of interest. As enormous and material as those conflicts must be, I’m just going to focus on what I can see with my own eyes, the man’s apparent intent.

In his public life, Donald Trump has never done anything that did not personally and directly benefit him. Most of us, as we go through life, assemble a collection of acts that are variously self-serving and other-serving. This is the way of life. Normal life. With Trump, not so. Even his meager philanthropic acts are tainted with controversy. The man simply cannot act in sacrificial way. He is incurable.^[In a campaign event in Fort Dodge, Iowa on November 12, 2015, Trump claimed that rival Ben Carson was “pathological” and that “…if you’re pathological, there’s no cure for that, folks, okay? There’s no cure for that.” Since Trump’s own psychopathology is widely questioned, one wonders if he, too, is incurable. Given that narcissistic personality disorder is almost certainly among the potential diagnoses, he probably is incurable.]

As a corollary, when considering his dismissal of FBI Director Comey yesterday, until a special prosecutor is appointed, I plan to apply that principle. Since Trump acts only in his own personal best interest, I’m going to assume that in firing Mr. Comey, he is personally benefitting from it.

Since the evidence that Trump’s concern was over the Russia investigation, it’s safest to presume the firing was about the Russia investigation notwithstanding the feeble excuses of his staff who were caught off-guard by the event.

We would all do well to re-read Masha Gessen’s piece in the New York Review of Books, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival." Her Rule #1: “Believe the autocrat. He means what he says." remains applicable. If Trump is fuming about the Russia investigation, he probably fired the very man investigating his Administration’s ties to Russia because of it.