John Bolton stands in front of numerous microphones and reporters

In this installment of Payne’s Predictions, I muse about the possibility that William Barr and John Bolton are the establishment right-wingers sent in to salvage as best as possible a Republican presidency as Trump self-implodes and gets impeached. Send in some big guns to contain the damage and clean up the crime scene.

If so, Bolton is poised to get the better role–the right-wing hero who helps cleanly sever the bone spur of Trump off the GOP’s heel with his shocking true tale of recklessness and corruption.

So far, Barr looks like an unprincipled hack, charged with soothing the mad king by any crazy means necessary and with a personal portfolio consisting of revenge against Trump enemies and ginning up a new, legally fig-leaved, narrative for the Trump presidential brand that does not involve the commission of crimes or the skirting of treason.

After the shock of the 2016 election receded, surely the GOP had to have some gamed out scenarios on how a Trump presidency could go. They had an agenda and Trump on a short leash could make it a reality. Regardless, the agenda would race forward.

They had just achieved a smash and grab heist for the ages. Their dangerous candidate captured the presidency in a stunning turnaround and by the skin of their teeth. No matter. They would stack the Judicial branch with graduates of Liberty University law school. They would give away everything possible to the donor class.

Fed by the Federalist Society and rubber stamped by Trump, all the Mitch McConnell-controlled Senate then needs to do is confirm extreme, right-wing judges.

Completely captured by corporations, all the Republican kleptocrat Cabinet secretaries then have to do is swiftly deregulate and plunder every sector of government. (I’ll except the SecDef from that rogue’s gallery of wolves in public servant clothing.)

Thus Republicans will strike out the reviled scourge of the American Dream in which we work hard and live a middle-class life; we invest in our kids with great public schools; we protect our food safety, air and water; and we insist on our human rights to health care. Instead of the American Dream, the Republicans pull a sleight of hand and make sure the rich will all get much richer and the industrialists will poison the air we breathe more.

In the benign version of Trump’s accompaniment to this Republican wet dream, they self-pleasure as the wildcard, loose cannon that was the terrifying candidate turns out to be happily content to play-act his cast of characters–rich, successful business legend; racist bellower; and tough prez giving out tough love on the world stage–while he lets the adults run the country.

Relieved, they would let Trump conduct his reality show presidency. The Great Orange Piper would tweet his brand of vitriolic bread and circuses for the low-information voter groups that comprise the MAGA coalition. All jacked up on hate and red hats, the Trump base would rattle cages and vote R.

What they (and we) got instead with the baked-in Republican looting of the national treasury is a Trump who is not only maliciously divisive and exceedingly corrupt, but also a GOP public relations disaster and national security apocalypse. Oopsie. Who could have seen Putin’s candidate causing any of that?

It went off the tracks early and far.

If anyone doubted that Team Trump had thrown in with the Russian influence operation, the day Trump’s national security adviser stepped down after being fingered as a Russianed-up, walking talking blackmail target and national security threat.

In short order, Trump was confessing to Lester Holt that he fired his FBI director because of “the Russia thing.” It was fairly obvious that the Mueller report would contain potentially explosively damaging information.

In this GOP nightmare scenario, Trump could only conduct his crime family business out of the White House for so long before he tipped the fulcrum so that the judging and the looting could no longer just quietly hum in the background. It was only a matter of time.

Republicans needed to accept they were in the darkest timeline. They set into motion some worst case scenario salvage operations. Barr is probably telling the truth when he says he really didn’t want this job. Now Bolton is poised to be the Republican hero who was on the job and brings down the Trump who finally went too far.

All hail our new Iran hawk ant overlord.