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Rich writes: "There will be no single smoking gun that will bring down this White House. It will be death by firing squad - or perhaps a sequence of firing squads - as the whole story inexorably pours out of the administration's smoldering ruins."

Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Watching the Downfall of a Presidency in Real Time

By Frank Rich, New York Magazine

13 July 17


Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today: Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. ’s emails, Republican silence, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s last attempts to get a health-care bill passed.

fter Donald Trump Jr. at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. ’s constantly shifting explanations for his meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, we now know that he, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort were eager to receive incriminating information about Hillary Clinton that was offered as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Is this the smoking gun investigators have been waiting for?

There will be no single smoking gun that will bring down this White House. It will be death by firing squad — or perhaps a sequence of firing squads — as the whole story inexorably pours out of the administration’s smoldering ruins. This week’s bombshell has the feel of gallows humor. Trump Jr.’s panicked release of the self-incriminating emails is tantamount to picking up a loaded gun and shooting himself in the head. Why did Little Donald not do what the Trumps always do in these situations — let the press (in this case the Times) go ahead and report its incriminating findings, rail against leakers, and then dismiss the latest incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing as “fake news”? Was Little Donald trying to protect his father from even worse revelations? To take down his brother-in-law even as his brother-in-law (a possible source of the emails) tried to take down him? To deliver a message from or to the Kremlin?

Some politicians, lawyers, and pundits are characterizing the emails as legal proof of perjury, the felonious solicitation of a campaign contribution from a foreign national, or even treason. But these are opinions, not the findings of judges or investigators. Even if the opinions are sound, they may hardly be the sum of the matter. For all we know, the released email chain may be only a small and relatively minor part of a much larger criminal web that stretches from Donald Trump’s tax returns to his and the Kushner family’s respective real-estate dealings in Russia and beyond. The authorities who matter — the investigators at the special counsel’s office and the FBI — are not telling us what they are up to. They may already know — or may soon know — of evidence far more incriminating than the revelations of the past 72 hours. Even this morning we are learning via McClatchy’s estimable Washington bureau that investigators are looking into possible coordination between the Jared Kushner–run Trump campaign digital operation and Russia’s “sophisticated voter targeting and fake-news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.”

The good news for those who want to see justice done is that this scandal not only resembles Watergate but also The Godfather — albeit a Godfather where every Corleone is a Fredo and not a single lawyer is as crafty as Tom Hagen, despite the fact that Little Donald’s private attorney has a history of defending clients from mob families. The level of stupidity of the conspirators is staggering: Not the least of the week’s news is that Kushner thought he could get away with omitting this Trump Tower meeting on the government questionnaire he filed to get his security clearance. (The $2.5 million that Charles Kushner donated to Harvard to gain his son admission was not money well spent.) My other favorite detail of the week (so far) is that Rob Goldstone, the former British tabloid writer and Miss Universe entrepreneur who served as the Trump campaign’s Russian middleman, posted on Facebook that he was “preparing for meeting” at Trump Tower on the day it took place.

Now it’s every man (and his lawyer) for himself as the president, having hidden from the press and the public ever since he returned home from his Yalta-themed tête-à-tête with Vladimir Putin, escapes to France, of all places. His press secretary is also in hiding, as is his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, who as recently as Sunday dismissed the Donald Jr. story as a “nothingburger” — Trumpspeak for the Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler’s designation of Watergate as a “third-rate burglary.” About the only administration stalwart not remaining silent is the vice-president, whose statement following the release of the Donald Jr. emails let it be known that he was “not aware” of the Trump Tower meeting and that it had taken place before he joined the campaign. Mike Pence has clearly been boning up on Gerald Ford, and may already be brooding about the risks entailed if he should eventually be in the position to pardon the 45th president.

Republicans in Congress have been slow to respond to this story, if they’ve commented at all. Is silence an effective strategy?

It’s not a strategy. It’s desperation. Much like their predecessors in the Nixon era, they keep hoping somehow it will all go away so they can get back to business as usual. After all, it was less than a month ago that David Brooks, writing in the Times, reassured them that there was “little evidence” of “any actual collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians” and that “most voters don’t really care” anyway. Prominent Republicans continued to use this script after the release of the Trump Jr. emails, with Orrin Hatch calling the story “overblown,” Peter King characterizing the campaign-hierarchy meeting with the Kremlin-connected lawyer as “a one-off, inadvertent mistake,” and Bob Corker dismissing the whole affair as “politics.” Even the occasional Republican eminence who tried to take a stand this week could muster only the usual bland utterances that the latest revelations were “disturbing” and “problematic,” as Lindsey Graham put it. A furrowed brow is still what passes for bravery among Republican politicians these days.

They can run from reality and reporters, but they can’t hide indefinitely. As I’ve written before, the closer we get to the 2018 midterms, the faster Republicans in the House — and some of those up for reelection in the Senate — will scramble for the lifeboats. But by the time they wake up and see the looming iceberg, it may be too late to save their careers.

Also yesterday, Mitch McConnell delayed the Senate’s August recess by two weeks and announced that a new version of the Senate’s health-care bill will be revealed on Thursday, with a new Congressional Budget Office score to follow. Will he eke out a legislative accomplishment by the end of the summer?

Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were reading those pieces about the wily legislative genius of Mitch McConnell? Trapping the Senate in Washington is not going to lead to the passage of the latest rewrite of the Senate health-care bill (whatever is in it). What we are likely to get instead is two weeks’ worth of television shots of Republican senators scurrying down the halls or shutting their office doors to escape reporters. Other things not happening this summer: tax reform, an infrastructure initiative, or the raising of the federal debt ceiling. The vacuum will be filled by the steady drip, if not flood, of White House revelations that neither the president nor his Capitol Hill enablers, apologists, and collaborators can stop.

If McConnell were really canny, what he’d be doing right now is gaming out how his party will respond to the next looming constitutional crisis: Trump’s inevitable version of the Saturday Night Massacre, in which Robert Mueller is fired, and Rod Rosenstein along with him. For all of us, a little perspective is in order. Little Donald is not the story here any more than G. Gordon Liddy and those third-rate burglars were the story in Watergate. We are likely to reach a point when this week’s firestorm will be remembered mainly as a warm-up for conflagrations yet to come.

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+30 # Carol R 2017-07-13 09:44
November 2013: At the Miss Universe pageant, Trump says: “I do have a relationship [with Putin] and I can tell you that he’s very interested in what we’re doing here today… I do have a relationship with him… He’s done a very brilliant job in terms of what he represents and who he’s represented.”

July 27, 2016: At a press conference, Trump says, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” At the same press conference, he insists, “I never met Putin. I’ve never spoken to him.” In an interview with CBS News, he reiterates: “But I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”

http://billmoyers.com/story/the-trump-resistance-plan-a-timeline-russia-and-president-trump/
 
 
0 # politicfix 2017-07-16 08:11
Crooks and con men are successful dealing with others like themselves, but they haven't a clue how to deal with honestly, limits and boundaries, laws or rules of any kind. The contrast is so obvious that there is no other outcome for the crook or con man but failure and disgrace.
 
 
+12 # Jaax88 2017-07-13 10:28
Excellent points
 
 
+41 # Wise woman 2017-07-13 10:35
Oh how I wish that the legal powers that be can get to the bottom of this nonsense so we can get passed it and get onto something that resembles serious business like climate change or infrastructure or single payer health care. All these things are being neglected due the Russian connection. Looks like a B rate movie starring Z rate actors.
 
 
+19 # ericlipps 2017-07-13 13:36
It's not "nonsense" if it involves impeachable offenses. And if you're suggesting that if we can just get this Russia business safely swept under the rug we can move on to enacting progressive legislation--wi th THIS Congress-now THAT'S nonsense!
 
 
+5 # Observer 47 2017-07-13 14:28
Perhaps that's not an accident.....
 
 
+7 # intheEPZ 2017-07-14 21:24
I agree and am so sick of the friendly media, Rachel Maddow, etc., getting us all exercised every night about how obviously corrupt, inept, bulllying, foul-mouthed, and morally bankrupt this admin is, but it is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. How can it be that people so transparently disinterested in the needs of the people of this democracy, so blatantly all about their own enrichment, could be allowed to sit at the table of world leaders and strut about in their emperor's clothes? What country is this? Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket? I fear we are in for not a firestorm of smoking guns but a normalization of nepotism, corruption, treason and greed.
 
 
+50 # GDW 2017-07-13 10:36
The fall of Donald Trump will be a glorious event but it will not put an end the the military Industrial Complex and us aggression. Or better the plight of the working class and poor. We need to educate ourselves, pull away the curtain that protects the Corporate Media from it's role as propagandist for the elites and US aggression. We need to organize around local leaders who fight for our interests.
 
 
+21 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-13 15:30
GDW -- good point. Click over to the article by Bernie Sanders and you will see the solution. Sanders is not very good on ending the massive wars we are into, but he would soon discover that he cannot fund the social programs Americans need unless the US stops wasting so much money on war.
 
 
-2 # Depressionborn 2017-07-15 10:05
Quoting GDW:
The fall of Donald Trump will be a glorious event but it will not put an end the the military Industrial Complex and us aggression. Or better the plight of the working class and poor. We need to educate ourselves, pull away the curtain that protects the Corporate Media from it's role as propagandist for the elites and US aggression. We need to organize around local leaders who fight for our interests.



what interests?
 
 
+37 # Jubilation_T_Cornpone 2017-07-13 10:42
Note to Vice-President Michael Pence : Do you care about your credibility once you replace Trump ? If yes, then do not emulate Gerald Ford : Do not pardon Trump.
 
 
+51 # wrknight 2017-07-13 11:29
We do not want to dump Trump - not yet. We do not want Pence as president, that is a worse scenario than we already have. The best option is to drag this debacle out at least until next year's elections and then hope that we can flip the Senate and (wishful thinking) even the House. Then we can tie Trump up in knots so that he and the Republicans can't do any more damage.
 
 
+16 # GreenBee 2017-07-13 16:12
I agree. We need to drag this out at least until after the mid-terms and hope we can be rid of Ryan. It is a daily prayer of mine that Ryan will lose his seat. Pence may go down with Trump after all, since he may have some involvement in this Russia mess. I would expect that Ryan will attempt to take them both down.
 
 
+9 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-14 08:47
good plan. It actually might work. The senate could flip easily, if there are good candidates in the Sanders mold.
 
 
-16 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-13 11:48
Predictions of Trump's downfall have been made before. I was once one who said many times that Trump would self-destruct. But it did not happen and it is not happening now. In fact, Trump's approval ratings are going up as he is seen as the victim of organizations that are hated much more than he is -- the elite media (NYT, Wapo) and the generalized "establishement ."

Frank Rich illustrates the problem with the "Trump is ready to fall any moment" crowd perfectly. They live inside a mass media bubble so everything they see is really only the hand-wringing hysterical frenzy of themselves and their colleagues. They are the true victims of "group think."

The media has gotten itself into a classic Orwell 1984 Two Minutes of Hate. This could be a description of Rich and many of this colleagues:

"In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People
were leaping up and down in their places and shouting
at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the mad-
dening bleating voice that came from the screen. The
little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and
her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed
fish. Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting
very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and
quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a
wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun cry-
ing out 'Swine! Swine! Swine!' "
 
 
+7 # carytucker 2017-07-13 13:13
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov:
Predictions of Trump's downfall have been made before. I was once one who said many times that Trump would self-destruct. But it did not happen and it is not happening now. In fact, Trump's approval ratings are going up as he is seen as the victim of organizations that are hated much more than he is -- the elite media (NYT, Wapo) and the generalized "establishement."

Frank Rich illustrates the problem with the "Trump is ready to fall any moment" crowd perfectly. They live inside a mass media bubble so everything they see is really only the hand-wringing hysterical frenzy of themselves and their colleagues. They are the true victims of "group think."

The media has gotten itself into a classic Orwell 1984 Two Minutes of Hate. "

This does not characterize Mr Mueller, et al., who I'll bet will uncover Mr Trump's role as money launderer for the criminal syndicate headed by the rapacious Mr Putin. Whether this disqualifies him as leader of our current proctocracy--go vernment by assholes--is another matter.
 
 
-4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-14 08:52
"the criminal syndicate headed by the rapacious Mr Putin."

Do you have any evidence of any criminal activity on Putin's part. Or do you just have baseless propaganda in the US media.


I'm really puzzled about how Putin change from being the good old boy friend of the US from about 2000 up to 2010. Then suddenly he became satan. Take a look of these photos of Putin and Bush. They were good pals -- fishing, dressing up, drinking at the ranch, etc. Everything was OK. Bush said "I looked him in the eyes and saw a man I could trust."

Then came the Obama coup d'etat in Ukraine and everything changed. Putin because the devil. Stories of criminality emerged in US media. We should understand how the US demonization of foreign leaders works. We all remember how al Qaeda was Reagan's freedom fighters, the moral equivalent of George Washington. Then the US turned and they because evil-doers. Same for Saddam.

You just can't believe what the US media says about a foreign leader.
 
 
0 # crispy 2017-07-18 20:30
This is so right-on Rodion!
We should however remember political opponents jailed or purely and simply assassinated on Putin's orders - who else?
Isn't that criminal?
Criminal banking and money laundering evidence however seem fuzzy unless someone here can refresh my memory. Something fishy about that Trump residence sold way over market value in a depressed market though as a small example.
 
 
+14 # ericlipps 2017-07-13 13:44
Trump may not be"ready to fall," but he may fall just the same.

The problem is that the GOP has poisoned the entire chain of succession. Get rid of the Rump and you get religious nut Mike Pence in his place. After Pence it would be Paul Ryan; after that, Orrin Hatch; and then the Cabinet (every member of which was, of course, appointed by Trump), starting with Secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

We're screwed until someone else is ELECTED president.
 
 
+7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-14 08:55
We should be thinking about 2020 right now. Sanders is preparing to run. Who else is in the game. Corey Booker was talked about as the Clinton's candidate. It is not too early to start getting national exposure for democratic challengers.
 
 
0 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-07-13 20:50
There hate's there already, when the Deplorables shriek out their mindless 'USA! USA! USA!'
 
 
-7 # Depressionborn 2017-07-14 03:52
The political class never expected Donald Trump to become president! Now they are stymied. We Trump voters are their problem.

thanks Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-13 11:48 But hate comes from fear and the political class fears they may be out of a job for a while?
 
 
+2 # intheEPZ 2017-07-14 21:27
Well said. Thumbs up to you. I hope you (we) are wrong, and he is brought down, but I fear not.
 
 
+19 # Robbee 2017-07-13 12:03
it's not over till it's over

don't count your chickens!

there is only one way to turn america progressive, convince voters!
 
 
+9 # grandlakeguy 2017-07-14 00:24
Convincing voters means NOTHING as long as Republican operatives who own the proprietary software on voting machines are allowed to "count" the votes.

America does not have elections...we have election theater!
 
 
0 # crispy 2017-07-18 20:24
yes granlakeguy and I wonder why top credible Democrats, including BERNIE do not bring that up and have a bill to impose paper ballot voting only...
 
 
-14 # Old School Conservative 2017-07-13 14:16
Democrats are really making fools of themselves with all this Russia stuff. After all this time all they have is that members of the Trump campaign were interested in hearing about some dirt on Hillary. The talk of impeachment and treason just make you sound like idiots.
 
 
-1 # BluePill 2017-07-14 02:18
And the Russian troll is heard from. Thanks. Republican Congress and Executive- nothing accomplished, that makes you look like idiots.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2017-07-14 03:55
Yes, Old School
And now the Russian Lawyer is turning out to be a Clinton gal. [gotta love poetic justice]
 
 
+3 # JSRaleigh 2017-07-13 15:01
Quoting Frank Rich:
Republicans in Congress have been slow to respond


That's because the "republicans in congress" were in on the collusion. In fact, they were colluding with Russians long before Donald Trump came on the scene.
 
 
0 # dotlady 2017-07-13 23:09
Some dirt on Hillary and Bill: they made a deal to sell 20% of the US's uranium to Russia and gave them rights to mine in the US. Anyone remember that? It was in the NY Times.
 
 
-1 # librarian1984 2017-07-15 08:10
And shortly after Bill gave a speech in Russia for $500,000 and Russian interests donated $142 million to the Clinton Foundation.
 
 
+1 # librarian1984 2017-07-15 23:50
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html
 
 
+1 # dotlady 2017-07-13 23:13
P.S. - Here's a source for the Hillary uranium deal:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/04/23/us/clinton-foundation-donations-uranium-investors.html
 
 
-4 # Old School Conservative 2017-07-14 10:26
That is the real crime that could put Bill and Hillary in Prison. Story completely ignored by main stream media.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2017-07-15 18:42
"Story completely ignored by main stream media"? Not really.

I read about it in the MSM, as did #dotlady {NY Times).

The deal itself smelled fishy even then, but that wasn't the Times's fault.
 
 
-1 # LandLady 2017-07-14 07:21
In his very first paragraph, Frank Rich does not provide a source for the very crucial phrase he has in quotation marks:
"part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." I therefore give very little weight to Mr. Rich's article, which involves a hugely serious challenge to the recent Presidential election and therefore the Constitution of the U.S.
 
 
+1 # Caliban 2017-07-15 18:46
Click the link to the Jun 3, 2016 [10:36 AM] email. It is there word for word.
 

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