Trump’s Theater of the Absurd

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People frequently mock President Trump’s press strategies, or rather lack of strategies. They mock Rudy Giuliani’s floundering press appearances. Let’s put a finer point on this: I mock all of them! A lot. But recent days have seen a series of revelations that paradoxically show how relatively successful the President and his toadies have been in warning observers off more or less obvious conclusions about the President’s actions.

Consider the recent claims from Michael Cohen that President Trump knew about the Trump Tower collusion meeting in advance. Some pointed out that we shouldn’t take Michael Cohen’s apparent claims at face value. He lacks credibility. This is a massive understatement. Few people have more checks against his credibility than Cohen. Only President Trump is a more notorious liar. But an eagerness to believe the worst about President Trump isn’t the main reason many were and are inclined to believe this claim. Why would they? Because it’s really obvious that it is almost certainly true. Of course the President knew in advance.

Donald Trump Jr gets a heads up that a Russian lawyer is coming with dirt on Hillary Clinton. The message says that the Russian government is the ultimate source of the information and that the Russian government is supporting Trump’s campaign. Trump’s ne-er-do-well son who seems to live for the approbation his father has never given him isn’t going to mention that to dad? Please. Not only does this fly in the face of common sense. It is totally at odds with everything we know about the Trump family and the Trump Organization. Of course Trump knew. If common sense isn’t enough you have his public Super Tuesday speech in which he couldn’t help but bragging about the dirt he was about to get.

Let’s take another possible revelation: the collusion planning meeting on June 7th, the same day as that speech, when Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and others got together to prep for the collusion meeting scheduled for two days later. As I noted yesterday, such a meeting would be an even bigger deal than the meeting itself because it shows premeditation. Gates’ presence would be another big deal since he’s already a cooperating witness in the Mueller probe.

But let’s get real. The top officials in the Trump campaign are going to meet with an emissary from the Russian government bringing compromising information about Hillary Clinton. They’re going to hit that discussion cold without any discussions or planning in advance? Good Lord, that makes no sense. Even clowns of the Trump family’s caliber would never do that. Of course they prepped in advance! Yet it’s a major revelation.

Consider that there have actually been stretches of time when Trump and his press people have managed to keep quite intelligent people on TV leaving as an open question whether Trump was out of the loop on his own extramarital affairs! Think about that.

These things are all obvious. The claims to the contrary range from unlikely to absurd. And yet, they still make up the baseline of the assumptions that most people bring to the story. Of course, proof is proof. It’s important to have proof and not just what is extremely likely. But it is all a testimony to how much mileage the President and his minions have gotten with now years of essentially absurd claims.

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