Both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran blockbuster stories on Trump's Russian entanglements over the weekend — and Trump imploded in spectacular fashion.
It was a bombshell weekend for Trump news.
The New York Times dropped the news that the FBI wasn't just investigating obstruction but had also been trying to figure out whether he was acting as a Russian asset while he was already president. Then the Washington Post reported that Trump is trying so hard to keep his conversations with Putin quiet that he's blocked his own interpreter from keeping notes or talking with other officials.
Trump has responded to this one-two punch with his traditional approach: melting down on Twitter, then calling in to the friends at Fox News.
He kicked off Saturday by using Twitter to go after some of his favorite targets, like James Comey (a "total sleaze") and Hillary Clinton (who committed "Real Collusion"). Trump also got mad about reports that he has no real plan to end the shutdown, tweeting that he does have a plan, but "to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election" and that "elections have consequences." It's still unclear what the election has to do with his shutdown "plan".
Trump hit his meltdown stride on Saturday evening, when he phoned into Judge Jeanine Pirro's Fox News show for a remarkable performance, even by Trump standards.
He started with his usual fearmongering about the border, hyping the presence of a new caravan and bragging that he stopped the last one. Egged on by Pirro, he complained about the Democrats and weirdly insisted that he hadn't left the White House in months even though he was just at the border last Thursday.
Things didn't get really spectacular until Pirro asked him, in light of the New York Times report, if he had ever worked for Russia. Trump utterly failed to deny that he worked for Russia, instead pivoting to say that the report was the "most insulting article" ever written about him and the Times was "failing," then bragging about firing Comey and claiming he is tougher on Russian than anyone, among other diversions.
Pirro also succeeded in whipping Trump into a frenzy over Michael Cohen's upcoming public congressional testimony. Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, said he'd testify voluntarily before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. In response to Pirro, Trump, predictably, talked about how Cohen has nothing to do with him. But then he went on, incredibly, to say that Cohen's father-in-law should be investigated: "But [Cohen] should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that's the one that people want to look at. Because where does that money — that's the money in the family."
Having someone in the Oval Office who throws tantrums about unfavorable press coverage, won't confirm that he isn't a Russian asset, and suggests prosecuting the family members of people he doesn't like is already terrifying. But as the walls close in on Trump, it's likely his behavior will get even worse.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.