Giuliani and Trump Appear Nuts. But Did Their Craziness Neuter Damage of the Moscow Tower Story?
One of the central questions we must answer when interpreting the evidence in the Trump/Russia scandal is whether President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani are just plain nuts. Or, rather, “crazy like a fox.” Based on Rudy’s television appearances on Sunday, it is becoming pretty clear that part of why this conundrum is so confusing is that it they are a little bit of both, and, at least so far, this strategy is working like a charm.
The biggest revelation to come out of Rudy’s most recent bout of televised insanity is that it now appears very obvious that the Trump Tower in Moscow project was not officially killed at least until Trump actually won the 2016 election. While Giuliani has implied this reality previously, he was far more definitive about it on NBC’s Meet the Press than he has been previously.
Whether by design, dumb luck, or a little bit of both, the way this truly scandalous information has come to be publicly accepted as true could not possibly have been better for the Trump Team. Giving Rudy the benefit of the doubt, it appears that this could all be part of a classic slow reveal strategy, one which has magically transformed, what could very well be the root of the entire scandal, into a remarkably minor news story.
Let’s consider for a moment just how much of a true bombshell revelation it is that, under the very best-case scenario, Donald Trump was still pushing for a Trump Tower in Moscow (essentially using the GOP nomination as a vehicle for him to do a land deal with a major foreign adversary!) at least until Election Day 2016. This means this effort was somehow still ongoing AFTER he said many times that he had no business dealings with Russia, AFTER the infamous Trump Tower meeting in New York City, AFTER he was the GOP nominee, AFTER the GOP platform was altered to appease Russia, AFTER he urged Russia to hack into Hillary’s emails, AFTER he called Hillary a Russian puppet at a presidential debate, and AFTER our intelligence agencies had briefed his campaign that Russia was trying to influence the election.
Can you imagine how big a story it would have been in late October of 2016 if news of this proposed deal had broken then?! Since he was already a long-shot to win, there’s little doubt that even his GOP primary foes Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would have been outraged at having been effectively robbed, and support within his own party would have been tested even more than it was by the infamous Access Hollywood tape.
While there is now a misperception that nothing could have brought Trump down, I truly believe that this kind of disclosure, properly timed, would have been lethal to his chances of victory. Regardless, if he had somehow won, it would have dramatically altered how his relationship with Russia would have been perceived right from the start, and probably greatly impacted his interactions with them as president.
Instead, this news has leaked so slowly, and so late, as to have essentially no impact at all the electorate. Here is how perfectly this all dribbled out — from the perspective of limiting political damage for Trump.
- After Trump is already president, Michael Cohen perjures himself to Congress and eventually it gets reported, initially, that the Trump Tower Moscow deal existed and ended just BEFORE the 2016 GOP primaries, which would have been a bad scenario, but not horrendous.
- Cohen pleads guilty to perjury and we find out that the proposed deal went on at least until June of 2016, which is worse because that’s when the Trump Tower NYC meeting was, but still not nearly as horrific as what we now know.
- Giuliani claims that Trump’s written answers to Robert Mueller account for the project to still be in the works through the election itself (it sure seems that Trump double-crossed Cohen on their cover story here, smartly waiting as long as he could before providing his “testimony”), but because it’s uncertain what that really means, and because Rudy is so unreliable in general, it doesn’t generate hardly any news coverage.
- Giuliani makes it clear that Trump has told Mueller that the project was NOT considered dead until what sounds like after he won the election, while laughably adding that Trump was so busy at the time that he may not remember exactly when that officially happened (in other words, it may have been even later than that!). Now, it’s all sort of old news!
All of this is like a rich husband (Trump) whose wife of two years (the GOP) finds out, in slow drips and drabs, that he was trying desperately to have an affair right up until they got married, but there’s currently no hard evidence that his efforts ever got beyond some sexting. Had she found out about this before the wedding, the whole thing would have been called off. But now they are married, he’s rich, and been buying her lots of cool stuff (he’s still working on that big wall he promised her), and a divorce, at this point, just isn’t worth all the hassle and embarrassment.
In other words, if the timing of the Trump Tower Moscow proposal really is the bulk of the iceberg that makes up the Russia scandal (this very well could be the case, as we finally have a theoretical explanation for all of the Trump Team’s endless lying) rather than just the tip of it, then Trump is going to survive this. If that is the case, he will be able to thank his extraordinary luck, the extreme expectations created by his enemies, the utter impotence of the news media, the short attention span of the public, and, yes, his own nuttiness, as well as that of his crazy lawyer.
John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at email@example.com
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.