Donald Trump is having what one commentator has dubbed “the worst week (so far)” of his time as US president. Scandal upon scandal is piling up, and with the Democrats poised to officially take control of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks, Trump’s house of cards presidency is increasingly collapsing around him.
“The man doesn’t tell the truth”
On 13 December, Trump’s denials over allegations he had paid hush money to several women with whom he had allegedly had extramarital affairs came home to roost. Revelations that have emerged from the court proceedings against Trump’s personal lawyer and ‘fixer’ Michael Cohen have made it impossible for Trump to continue his denials.
After the trial, Cohen insisted:
Nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me … to make the payments.
The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.
The president no longer disputes that he instructed his then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to make the payments.
Perhaps most damningly of all, the Wall Street Journal has now reported that the executive of the company that owns the National Enquirer met with Trump to discuss using the publication to buy the women’s silence.
The troubles pile up
The scandal above follows a string of others throughout the week:
- On 13 December, the Senate rebuked Trump’s administration over Saudi Arabia in two damning votes. It first passed (56-41) a resolution denouncing US involvement in the Saudi-led war on Yemen. And it then unanimously passed a resolution placing responsibility for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reports also emerged that Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner advised bin Salman during the murder’s cover-up.
- Maria Butina pleaded guilty to spying for Russia. The graduate student was allegedly trying to infiltrate US right-wing organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) on behalf of the Russian government. Given Trump’s sycophantic treatment of Russia since his election, the development was no doubt embarrassing for the president.
- House Democrats, who will have a majority in the next Congress, are reportedly already looking into ways to get Trump to release his tax returns. In contravention of long-established protocol, Trump refused to release them during his campaign.
- Trump made a fool of himself during a televised meeting with the likely incoming Democratic leadership. He said that he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the issue of his proposed border wall. He then repeated some of his boilerplate racist rhetoric about immigration.
- White House chief of staff John Kelly resigned. And as the week progressed, Trump was unable to find a replacement.
The beginning of the end?
Washington commentators have been speculating about whether this could spell ‘the beginning of the end’ of Trump’s presidency. But whether it is or not, any remaining vestige of credibility in Trump’s ability to govern has now vanished.
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