In light of Trump's twitter meltdown over the week-end and the fact that he has now had to admit that Russian election interference did take place Walter Shapiro makes a strong case for reporters to band together and ask President Trump the same question over and over again: “Mr President, if your claim that there was no collusion with Russia is correct, then why do you refuse to condemn Vladimir Putin or enforce sanctions against Russia?”
Like a small child being introduced to board games, Trump’s instinct is to knock over the table whenever he is challenged. These daily uproars and Twitter tantrums all but erase memories of the prior week’s outrages. The result: the news media has lost its ability to declare that one topic (Russian interference) is of far more lasting importance than Trump’s assaults on random targets like Oprah Winfrey.
Given the leak-proof nature of the Mueller investigation, there is as yet no way to know whether the special counsel has uncovered convincing evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin’s puppets. And it remains likely that most Trump insiders and the troll farmers in Moscow never expected the bilious billionaire to actually become president.
But the innocent explanations for Trump’s willful inaction in the face of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election are beginning to seem implausible.
For a long while, I clung to the notion that Trump has a fan-boy crush on Putin, admiring the Russian leader’s bare-chested brazenness, his contempt for democracy and unashamed cronyism.
Another familiar argument is that Trump bristles at any challenge to the legitimacy of his election. That’s why losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton prompted Trump to go off on half-baked conspiracy theories about five million illegal votes and to appoint his ill-fated commission on voter fraud.
When Steve Bannon was riding high, there was talk of his dream of an alliance with Russia against the Muslim world. In such a geopolitical fantasy, the religious links between American evangelicals and Russian Orthodoxy would erase cold war memories as Putin and Trump marched off into the sunset arm-in-arm.
But Bannon has been exiled to Elba. And the president’s unhinged tweets last weekend – excoriating everyone from his national security adviser HR McMaster to the FBI – suggest that there is far more at stake than Trump’s disappointment in his role model in the Kremlin.
Everyone has a private list of what Trump might have to hide. But what matters at the moment is the president’s abdication of any interest in safeguarding the 2018 elections from Moscow’s meddling.