On Christmas Eve, the spirit of Charles Dickens descended on Mar-a-Lago. President Donald Trump was haunted by Dickens' ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. It was not a good night for the ghosts, nor for Trump, in which Christmas carols were notably absent.
The Ghost of Christmas Past was Abraham Lincoln. His questioning was pointed, tough and chastising. "Mr. Trump," Lincoln began. "What have you done to my party and to Republicans?"
"We believed in ideals and truth. We believed in allowing our better angels to prevail. And we believed in charity for all with malice toward none."
Trump interrupted. "Abe, may I call you Abe? This is not 1861 or 1865. It is worse. The Democrats are destroying the nation. They are far more dangerous than the Confederates who lacked the industrial base to defeat the North. But the Dems have all the money to do the job."
"Mr. Trump, you may not call me Abe! Mr. Lincoln or President Lincoln will suffice. And we are off to visit a household in New York and a family who spent a great deal of money at Trump University and lost it all."
"That is unfair," Trump bellowed. "Trump University was a great success. People learned how to make money."
"And that is why you had to close it down and pay $25 million in damages?"
"That never happened -- it was the lying media and fake news."
This family lived in a cold-water flat in a Bronx complex owned by the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Heat and electricity were sporadic in the tiny, squalid apartment. The youngest of five children was dying because the family could not afford medications.
Despite Lincoln's pleas, Trump took little notice of the conditions and soon found himself in bed at Mar-a-Lago awaiting Christmas Present. It was John McCain.
"McCain, what are you doing here?" a flustered Trump muttered.
"I am taking you to Afghanistan and the front lines. For a moment you will be Pvt. Trump in a forward operating base under attack by the Taliban."
"Must we?" McCain's expression was unambiguous. They were about to land in Afghanistan.
As mortar shells landed around the FOB, Trump instinctively dove for cover, cowering under the nearest table. An instant later, five Taliban crashed into the bunker with AK-47s leveled at Trump.
Back in bed, the president was in a cold sweat, shaking from the near-death experience. Before the Ghost of Christmas Present absented himself, he had a final comment. "I guess New York Military Academy never prepared you for that!" Trump relapsed into an uneasy sleep.
At the stroke of 3, the Ghost of Christmas Future appeared at Mar-a-Lago.
"Is that you, Vladimir? Thank goodness it is," the president sighed in relief.
"Donald, I do not think you should be so happy about that."
"You will see," as the pair was transported to Washington. It was June 2020. Floating above the capital, Trump heard the news. The Supreme Court had ordered the release of the president's tax returns and his business records in March.
Acquitted in the Senate in a two-day trial in January, the president was on his way to re-election. But his tax and business records were political nuclear time bombs. Both showed the Trump Organization had survived because of Russian money, much of which had been laundered.
Russian-backed loans saved several of the Trump hotels along with outright overpriced purchases of Florida condos that were under financial water. The returns were the basis for New York grand jury's indictments alleging fraud and tax evasion by Trump.
"Vlad, how did this happen? Are you screwing me? After all, I was on your side."
"Of course not. You were our preferred candidate. You have been very useful. Hillary would have been a disaster. Now that you will be crushed in November, our efforts are for naught. The Dems will win and they will make life much more difficult for us."
Returned to Mar-a-Lago, Trump sat up in horror. The first rays of the sun were filtering over the estate. Trump shook his head. What a terrible night. What nightmares. And what nonsense.
"I have done nothing wrong. Anyone in New York real estate uses taxes to advantage. Like impeachment, this is a scam, a hoax and like Russian collusion, is a witch hunt."
Restless in his oversize bed, Trump wondered aloud, "Who is this guy Dickens anyway?"
Harlan Ullman is UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished columnist. He serves as senior adviser at the Atlantic Council and was a professor of military strategy at the National War College and the Naval War College. His latest book is "Anatomy of Failure: Why America Has Lost Every War It Starts." Follow him @harlankullman.