In the last week or so, we’ve been treated to a cascade of moral atrocities, most of them indictments waiting to happen.
Trump and his toadies are now all crime, all the time, and it’s getting really hard to keep up. There seems to be an accelerator effect in play, with more and more Trump-crime getting crammed into shorter and shorter news cycles.
In rapid succession, we’ve heard from a variety of sources, all engaged in filling in the sordid details of what was already sordid enough.
In rough chronological order, let’s review:
First, Michael S. Schmidt of The Times told us that Robert Mueller did not investigate Trump’s financial ties to Russia. Nobody did. Nobody includes the Senate Intelligence Committee, which you’d think might have an interest in finding out if the president is a traitor. But nope, Rod Rosenstein killed that entire counterintelligence side of the probe, then kept it secret. Turns out Rosenstein is as reptilian as any of them, just smarter about it.
Then Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic gave us the news that Trump doesn’t think much of the armed forces — surely he still resents having to scam his draft board into excusing him from Vietnam. Calling them “suckers” and “losers” seemed a bit over the top, but at this point, it’s not so much what we’re finding out about Trump, it’s whether this will turn the heads of any military people, who can surely see he’s not exactly the commander-in-chief type.
Enter Michael Cohen. You would’ve thought he would dominate at least two news cycles, but even for the ultimate insider with a book to peddle, things are moving at a torrid clip. Before his fast fade the next day, he did manage to put some meat on the bones of his House testimony, but for me the juiciest part was hearing it confirmed that Trump never wanted to be president, that the whole clown show was always a branding exercise with Putin as the target audience, and that winning was never part of the plan. Which just underscores how much he’s grown into the job.
But Cohen didn’t even make it to the next day before Bob Woodward jumped in with Trump’s own words. On tape. It was a doozy.
Just what prompted Trump to submit to eighteen phone sessions with a reporter who has already taken down one president will have to be for future historians to ponder. But what Trump actually revealed, in his own words, was the most transparent act of presidential criminality since House of Cards, which can be excused for being fictitious.
Bringing down Nixon involved real reporting skills that are rightly famous. But with Trump, all Woodward had to do was hit the record button, sit back, and listen to him self-incinerate. So yes, it turns out Trump knew exactly how lethal the virus was as early as February 7. Which is, in effect, an admission of mass murder.
Trump’s immediate reaction to being caught with so much blood on his hands was typical. It’s all Biden’s fault. Biden, he tweeted, wants to “ban American Energy, confiscate your guns, shutdown [sic] the economy, shutdown [sic] auto production, delay the vaccine, destroy the suburbs, erase your borders, and indoctrinate your children with poisonous anti-American lies!” Notice that nowhere does he mention the virus.
So it was a week that took about a month to get through — and those were just the highlights. The cascade started before them and continued after. Almost lost in the melee was the adorable revelation that Sean Hannity is “stressed” in his role as designated Trump whisperer. I’m sure you all join me in extending our deepest sympathies.
But the weird thing about all of this is that it just confirms what we already knew. Is anyone really shocked that Trump hates the military? Or that he played down the virus for selfish reasons? Or that Putin has more dirt on him than his tax returns? Or that, in Cohen’s words, he’s “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man?”
Yes, it’s all damning, but what does damning even mean anymore? Does anything move the needle for that deplorable third of the electorate?
There’s obviously a lot of pent-up rage on the part of reporters, insiders, lawyers, military personnel, and that vast army of civil servants who’ve been holding their tongues to preserve their jobs.
They see that now is the time to vent that rage, and they’re coming out of hiding as the election gets closer. They’re writing books, blowing whistles, raising red flags, making ads, filing motions, and trying really hard to get a word in edgewise. Which is getting harder and harder to do.
I’ll go out on a limb here and predict there’s more to come.