BALTIMORE — For the moment, Donald Trump has accomplished the previously unthinkable. His performance in Helsinki was so nakedly disloyal to both his intelligence experts and his country, and so sycophantic toward Vladimir Putin, that he made everyone briefly forget all the other outrages he’s committed lately.
Like separating terrified immigrant children from their parents, and undercutting close allies like Angela Merkel and Theresa May, and trashing NATO and the European Union, and calling reporters “enemies of the American people.”
And, not to be minimized, trying to distance himself from his old fixer Michael Cohen and, by extension, Cohen’s mouthpiece Lanny J. Davis, who cannot wait to get into the game.
Which game? The game of exposing Trump for what he is: the least capable, most compromised man ever elected – fairly or not – to the American presidency.
Trump showed this on Monday, when he met with the Russian leader in private and then disgraced himself in public immediately thereafter.
Fixer Cohen and Mouthpiece Davis, waiting for their moment in the spotlight, must have been salivating.
Some have called Trump’s public performance Monday “naïve.” To say such a thing is a starting point, perhaps, but it also lets Trump off the hook. He is clearly uninformed and unprepared, but his behavior and his words go well beyond naivete.
Did Putin and Russia attack America’s 2016 presidential election? Every U.S. intelligence agency says yes. Putin says no. On Monday, Trump sided once again with Putin, whom he called “extremely strong and powerful in his denials.”
According to Trump, relations between Russia and the U.S. “have NEVER been worse.” Leaving aside any comparisons to that little end-of-the-world nuclear showdown over Russian missiles in Cuba some years back, whom does Trump blame for this?
Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
He blames the U.S., “thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the rigged Witch Hunt.”
To which an exultant Russian foreign ministry immediately tweeted:
We agree https://t.co/7l087Qwmj3
— MFA Russia ?? (@mfa_russia) July 16, 2018
And then we have those 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted last week. This is no fault of the Russians – Trump instead blames special counsel Robert Mueller. A president who’s not worried about secrets the Russians are holding over his head would have told Putin, “I want those spies extradited for trial, or we’re talking about new economic sanctions.” Trump said nothing of the kind.
And Fixer Cohen and Mouthpiece Davis, watching all of this, bide their time.
Senator John McCain, who has nothing left to lose at this point in his life, called Trump’s meeting with Putin “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for Putin are difficult to calculate.”
Former CIA chief John Brennan went further. Trump’s performance “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’” Brennan wrote. “It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???”
Where are they? They’re ducking for cover, that’s where they are. Because, when they emerge from the shadows, they’re hit with embarrassing questions.
Not only about the inexplicable Russia connections – but the connection to Fixer Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who knows all of the president’s secrets (including that business of money to Stormy Davis just before the election).
And, beyond Cohen, it’s a connection now abetted by Davis.
Remember Lanny Davis? He used to be special counsel to Bill Clinton. He’s tight with Hillary Clinton. In fact, he’s so furious that Trump’s president that he wrote a book about it, published only a few months ago, called “The Unmaking of the President 2016.”
If you’re still wondering whether Michael Cohen’s going to flip on Trump, look no further than his hiring of Davis a few weeks ago. This isn’t just the hiring of some ordinary legal advisor – it’s a public in-your-face stick in Trump’s eye.
As Davis’s book makes clear, he’s not just angry at Trump – he compares the “cataclysmic” 2016 election to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and urges Trump’s impeachment on a variety of grounds, including obstruction of justice, abuse of public trust, willful material lies, undermining freedom of the press, violations of emoluments prohibitions.
Oh, yeah – and betrayal of trust to the U.S. in favor of Russia.
And, mind you, Davis wrote all of this before Trump disgraced himself this week.
This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News.
Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of five previous books, including Michael Olesker’s Baltimore: If You Live Here, You’re Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts’ Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press.