I'm not sure how other people evaluate a person's behavior, but I tend to look at various alternatives and assess which motivation is mostly likely the primary driver.
As a shallow example, I will mention one of my wife's driving habits. First, the background. We bought a house about 14 years back with a limited access, divided 4-lane highway into the city. It's more than a few miles. As the years have gone by, they've built up sub-divisions all along that highway and started adding stop lights at every major entrance. Apparently over-passes are too expensive for this road. Traffic is going slower and slower.
Well, my wife gets exasperated. She'll get in the left lane thinking it will go faster, and it doesn't. So she loudly blames the slow driver in front of her. I look at the line of cars in front of the one she's blaming and point out that driver cannot go any faster than he/she already is.
My quick and dirty point is that you have to look at all the reasons a person will take a certain action in order to properly understand that action. Just because a car is going slow doesn't mean the driver is a slow-poke.
Now to my blog's title, the defense of President Trump. Yesterday, everyone was attacking Trump for not coming down hard on Putin for past election meddling. Unfortunately, I turned on Fox and saw Shepard Smith claiming Trump's behavior was treasonous, and I couldn't watch anything after that. So the logic I'll step through may have some holes due to my not watching the news on this one in depth.
Why might Trump not take a hard position against Putin and Russian election meddling? Could it be that most of the media and lots of social media claim that Russian meddling affected the results of the election and that Hillary Clinton would have won without it? That Russian meddling makes his presidency illegitimate?
I expect that President Trump believes that his campaign was superior to Hillary Clinton's. That Russian meddling changed little or no votes. And that his win and his legitimacy are being wrongly maligned for no good reason.
Further, you have the despised media and most of the government telling him what he has to say and how he has to behave in a meeting with Putin. Would you want to be told what you had to do in an important meeting?
Then take it a step further. Every action he has taken has been opposed by the media and frequently by much or most of his own party. Do you think Trump is the type of person to close-up, play it safe, and avoid controversy? Especially if he thinks he is in the right?
Let's take a few examples of the pressure he's been put under. Supposedly, he is the head of the executive branch of government. He hires an Attorney General he believes will be a defender of his agenda. The AG promptly recuses himself from all things Russian and campaign related. His deputy AG recommends firing the FBI director (which Trump does), then turns around and appoints a Special Prosecutor to investigate all things Russian and campaign related, an old friend. Does Trump have any control over his DOJ? Obviously not.
But it goes further, Congress introduces legislation that will prevent him from firing the AG and deputy AG. His own party indicates support. I assume Trump's advisers say don't fire them or you will be compared to Nixon and impeachment will be a likely outcome. So Trump lives with the Mueller investigation and the media bashing for over a year and a half.
Not only that, but anybody associated with his campaign that appears to have done anything legally questionable in the last decade or two is indicted on charges having nothing to do with Trump.
On a second topic, his immigration actions are stymied by federal judges for a year and a half until the Supreme Court finally says he was right in following the law.
He believes a wall will help limit illegal immigration--that violates our federal laws. But his request for $20 B goes unanswered. He cannot get congress to pass DACA legislation and cannot even get a rider on other bills for the wall. Further, the defense bill included language saying he could not use existing funds for the wall. His own party had to vote to include that language.
As far as I can tell, most of his attempts to reduce regulations have been successful, with the courts and congress being relatively unsuccessful at stopping those actions. However, the media has successfully hounded his cabinet members that have been the most successful at deregulation.
Then there is the world-wide tariff war. Trump is trying to to reduce or eliminate other nations' trade barriers to US imports. Does he get credit for using what little leverage he has? No, he's accused of trying to start a trade war. Do any of the media even talk about those nations' trade barriers? Nope. Does his party support him? Again no, he hears the same criticism from those folks. They even introduce a measure to prevent the president from raising tariffs for national security reasons.
Then there is every trip or summit Trump attends. The media and congress say how bad an idea it is for him to meet with anyone: North Korea, NATO, Germany, England, or Russia. And they tell him how he should behave and what he should say, if he absolutely must meet with them.
What else can I say. Be honest with yourself. Would you imply at a summit with Putin that his meddling got you elected and that your presidency is illegitimate? Sure, I'm sure you think you could walk the line better than Trump and wouldn't appear like a bumbling fool. Perhaps you should throw your hat in the ring for President of the United States?