Donald Trump has cancelled his official meeting with Vladimir Putin. In fact, he’s cancelled almost all of the meetings that he was scheduled to have during the G20. And while Trump has given a reason for not meeting with Putin, it’s probably safe to say that Trump didn’t shut down a visit with Theresa May because the Russians are holding Ukrainian sailors hostage.
No. Not so much. Trump is no busier in Argentina than he was on his recent trip to France, where he stiffed the rest of the Western world, skipping out on both meetings and ceremonies to sulk in a Paris suite conducting extended “executive time.” His excuse on that occasion: France was moist.
But there is a good reason why Trump wants to stick to his hotel room and a steady diet of Fox-generated reassurance: Individual One is in deep, deep trouble. Trump’s trip to Europe was preceded by his replacement of Jefferson Sessions with Matthew Whitaker. With his fellow scam artist holding down the attorney general slot, Trump for the first time had access to everything the DOJ knew about Robert Mueller’s progress in the Russia investigation. What Trump learned there was enough to keep him bed-bound for days.
Now Trump’s trip to Argentina has been tarnished by a tumble of dominoes—Trump finally turned in his written responses to a set of questions that the special counsel sent his way weeks ago. Almost immediately, Mueller hauled Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort back into court, accusing him of breaching a plea agreement by lying to investigators. Before that had a chance to fully sink in, Mueller was back again, this time announcing a new plea deal with Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who can testify to events on all sides of Trump’s relationship with Russia.
It’s safe to say that it’s not the captivity of Ukranian sailors that is on Donald Trump’s mind.
On his way to Argentina, Trump paused to call the former Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization a “weak person” and “not a very smart person” as he condemned Michael Cohen for “lying” about the ongoing effort to land a Trump real estate deal in Moscow. However, despite Trump saying more than a dozen times that Cohen had lied, Trump also pitched in several iterations of “if I did it, there was nothing wrong with it.” And, as predictable as clockwork, the New York Times reports that Trump’s own attorneys were back within hours to confirm that yes, he did it.
President Trump’s recollection of discussions about building a Trump Tower in Moscow aligned with those of his longtime fixer Michael D. Cohen, the president’s lawyers said on Thursday after Mr. Cohen admitted in court that he had pursued the project as Mr. Trump secured the Republican nomination for president.
Trump’s morning tweets have switched from Cohen is a liar into full “pity me” mode.
Trump: Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail. Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!
There are only a few dozen issues with that. Among them is that Trump’s only mention of the Moscow deal on the campaign trail was that there wasn’t one. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly said he had “nothing to do with Russia.” And maybe the biggest thing wrong with that statement is no one was worried about how much money Trump was giving Russia. It’s a bit the other way around.
Besides, it wasn’t as if Trump wasn’t planning to give Vladimir Putin a rich reward for his time. As Buzzfeed reports, the plans for the Trump Tower Moscow included handing Putin his very own $50 million penthouse suite.
Far from being a “lightly considered” deal, Trump’s Moscow Tower appears to have been ready to go. Trump was to get an up from $4 million, plenty of apartments to sell, a spa named after Ivanka, a stack of money from Russian investors, and a clear path through every regulation to have that big gold “T” on the tallest building in all of Moscow. And all he had to do to get Putin’s signature on the deal was follow instructions provided by Paul Manafort and do maximum damage to Hillary Clinton.
The biggest screwup in this plan is that Trump’s racism, sexism, and xenophobia carried him across the finish line—a result that was a surprise to both Trump and Putin.
For Robert Mueller, it looks like it’s just time to fill in the details. If he hasn’t already done so.