The miracle of the Trump-Russia story is that everyday brings a new bombshell, which makes it exceedingly difficult to decide how to communicate the relative import of today’s news versus yesterday’s news.
Thursday is a case in point. Last night, Rudy Giuliani showed up on CNN and basically admitted there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. You’ve undoubtedly seen this clip by now, but just in case, here it is:
To be clear, Rudy is lying. He has repeatedly suggested there was no collusion between the campaign and the Kremlin and so has Trump. For instance, in January of last year, Trump said this:
There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians.
In April of last year, Trump said this:
There was no collusion between Trump campaign and Russian people.
Last month, Trump said this:
There was no collusion whatsoever.
If you’re somehow incredulous, here is a fun mashup video:
Now you tell me: how is any of that consistent with Paul Manafort sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik? And how are any of those quotes from Trump consistent with his own lawyer saying this on national television last night:
I never said there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia!
Spoiler alert: it’s not consistent. None of it is consistent. They are lying. The only thing that’s consistent here is that every, single time Giuliani shows up on TV, he implicates his client in high crimes and misdemeanors, a habit Rudy got into last summer (see a full highlight reel in our hilarious Rudy archive here).
Just take a moment to appreciate how far the narrative has shifted. We’ve now reached a point where the best the President’s lawyer can do is cling to the assertion that Trump was oblivious to the fact that members of his campaign were conspiring with Moscow to rig a US election. And the only reason he’s conceding there might have been collusion between the campaign and Russia is because details of the ongoing Paul Manafort drama were accidentally revealed thanks to Manafort’s lawyers who apparently don’t know how to properly redact documents.
And look, you guys, it got worse last night. So much worse, in fact, that America is once again left to lament the fact that Rudy Giuliani’s legacy will now be defined by moments like what you see in the following clip which would be embarrassing even for a public defender, let alone someone who used to be a damn icon.
Fast forward to Thursday and the Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Cohen once hired a guy called John Gauger, head of RedFinch Solutions LLC, to rig two polls for Trump. Hilariously, there was also an effort to promote a Twitter account called “@WomenForCohen” which “praised (Cohen’s) looks and character, and promoted his appearances and statements boosting” Trump’s bid for the Oval Office.
Cohen allegedly paid Gauger somewhere between $12,000 and $13,000 in “a blue Walmart bag” – it’s almost like ol’ Michael was trying to emulate cash handoffs he’d seen in movies, but because the amount was too small for a briefcase and because there were no envelopes or brown paper bags laying around, he decided to just stuff everything in the shopping bag he used at the store earlier that day. Also in the bag, according to the Journal, was “a boxing glove that Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter.”
You can’t make this stuff up. Apparently, Gauger was never paid the full $50,000 he was promised for the job, but Cohen was reimbursed the full amount by the Trump Organization. Responding to the report, the best Giuliani could come up with was to say that because Cohen only paid out $13,000, it “proves he’s a thief” – as though that’s the point here.
“As for the WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS”, Cohen tweeted on Thursday, adding that he “truly regrets” his “blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
Coming back to the point made here at the outset, it’s hard to figure out the right way to communicate just how momentous these two stories are, precisely because they seem trivial by comparison to some of the other, related bombshells that have hit over the past week.
And by that, we of course mean that in the past five days alone, we’ve learned that i) the FBI once opened a counterintelligence probe into a sitting US president because America’s intelligence apparatus suspected he might be a Russian asset and ii) Trump is in the habit of confiscating notes gathered by his own interpreter after meetings with the dictator of the same country with whom Rudy Giuliani just admitted may have colluded with the campaign.