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Trump's new campaign: stoke the base, sully the investigators

Michael Snyder / AP

A milestone, on Day 148 of the Trump presidency: Amid all the bluster and bellyaching, President Trump is acknowledging for the first time — with both public and private actions — that he's fighting to save his presidency.

It's his next campaign — triggered by his own pique and carelessness, long before he would have to formally gear up for 2020. This is a big reason nearly every action — and reaction — is aimed at shoring up his base.

In moments of clarity amid his fits of rage, Trump knows he boxed himself in politically and legally by firing FBI Director Jim Comey, triggering what he though he could avoid: an all-consuming investigation focusing on him.

Pause for a moment to soak in that the President of United States confirmed on the record via Twitter that Mueller is gunning for him. And attacked his own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein (who now might resign or recuse himself).

The arsenal: Facing special counsel Robert Mueller's still-growing team of 13 prosecutorial killers, Trump is building his own arsenal. The president's personal legal team added the intimidating John Dowd, who represented Sen. John McCain in the Keating Five banking scandal, and whose Dowd Report for Major League Baseball got Pete Rose banished for life for gambling.

Dowd, 76, joins longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz; Jay Sekulow, the TV face of the team, who's doing a "full Ginsburg" blitz oftomorrow's Sunday shows; and Mark Corallo, a Justice Department alumnus who was Rep. Bob Livingston's press secretary during the Clinton impeachment.

Reuters reports: "Another well-known white-collar Washington lawyer will likely join the team shortly."

Be smart: Trump, notorious for his litigiousness in New York, is playing an inside-outside game: stockpiling talent to protect him legally, while publicly trying to discredit the investigators and whatever they might eventually say or do.

A problem for Trump: Those things are at odds. Everything Trump says now, Bob Mueller will use against him.