This has been an absolutely terrible week for the commander-in-chief. First, his former campaign manager lost his plea deal with Robert Mueller because Paul Manafort lied to the special counsel. Next, we learned that Manafort was sharing some information with Trump’s lawyers—not only compromising Mueller’s end of the case (as Trump’s lawyers could glean insight into where he’s looking and prepare a defense)—but potentially Trump’s as well (the flip side is that some communication between Trump’s lawyers and Manafort is no longer protected by their joint defense agreement, meaning that Mueller could potentially probe some of Trump’s legal team’s communications).
Then, Trump’s former fixer/lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to congress about Trump’s attempt to do business in Russia during the 2016 campaign. BuzzFeed News’ ace reporting team of Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold uncovered in May much of what Cohen pleaded guilty to this week, and their new scoop this week detailed a plan to give Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse for free in Trump Tower Moscow.
This is what Trump’s denials to all the Russia stuff have sounded like prior to this week.
Not only was this sentiment clearly betrayed by tweets like this to Russian oligarchs in 2013:
But now, Trump is basically just straight up telling us what his plan was.
This morning brought even more honesty on the part of the president, as he tried his hand at sarcasm.
This is objectively hilarious. Trump has spent an entire lifetime doing business with organized crime figures, and all he had to do to get away with it was not become president. Paul Manafort spent his whole career being the foot soldier for war criminals across the globe, and he would have retired comfortably in the Hamptons if he just hadn’t won a presidential election. The Trump-Russia saga is important because it provides key insight into how important crooked money is to the economy (especially real estate in major cities across the world), and the lesson we are learning from it is all you need to do to get away with it is not rise to a position of democratic power.
That Trump is now basically admitting to colluding with Russia over his business interests (his side of the deal, it doesn’t take a genius to see Paul Manafort’s “how do we get whole” text to Oleg Deripaska, one of Putin’s favorite oligarchs, and the subsequent attacks on the DNC to know what Russia’s side of the deal looked like) tells you how out in the open this stuff really is. If we truly want to rid our economy of crooked real estate developers working with figures connected to organized crime, Mueller’s task force should stay around far longer than just President Trump’s investigation. This is but one piece of a much larger global con.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.