Anthony Scaramucci, who served briefly as White House communications director but has now broken with the president, said Mr. Trump was not interested in corruption but re-election. “He is going after Biden hard because he knows Biden destroys him in a general election, and so he will do and say anything to anybody to knock him out now,” Mr. Scaramucci said.
The furor that has developed in recent days will force the White House, Congress, the Justice Department, the intelligence agencies and perhaps even the courts to confront once again the question of where the lines of political standards are drawn and whether Mr. Trump crossed over them.
In more than two years in office, Mr. Trump has kept his properties, which do business with the federal government and foreign officials, and has even proposed hosting next year’s Group of 7 summit at his Doral resort in Florida. He has repeatedly called on the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals, and he fired an attorney general who he complained did not protect him from Mr. Mueller. The president has even sought the repudiation of weather forecasters who contradicted his hurricane prediction.
In recent days, his lawyers have asserted that not only can Mr. Trump not be indicted while serving as president, he cannot even be criminally investigated, a far more sweeping claim of immunity than ever found by courts. And Mr. Trump has made clear he sees no problem in accepting derogatory information from foreign governments, saying, “I’d take it,” even after the Mueller report.
That leaves the impression with allies and adversaries alike that Mr. Trump is focused on his own interests. “The president will say and do anything for his own personal pursuits and not for the benefit of the country,” said Heather A. Conley, the director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
All of which, she said, has damaged the notion of America as a “shining city on a hill,” as Mr. Reagan put it, the country that would stand for principle, even if it did not always live up to that aspiration. Now, she said, millions of people around the world “have now learned that the city is for sale, not unlike other kleptocratic regimes.”