Since July 27, 2016—the day Mr. Trump told Russia at a news conference that they would be rewarded for releasing Hillary Clinton's e-mails—Mr. Trump's primary mode of public communication has been Twitter. He held no news conferences between July, 2016 (the same month, as Mr. Comey revealed Monday, that his campaign fell under FBI investigation) and his inauguration. Even after taking office, pressers have been rare. Instead, Mr. Trump tweets, reducing everything from threats to foreign countries to domestic conspiracy theories to ruminations on The Apprentice, all in 140 characters or less.There is much more at the link; I highly recommend reading Sarah's piece in its entirety.
Twitter has proven an ideal medium for a narcissistic liar under federal investigation. Mr. Trump's tweets cannot be ignored: he is the President, and every tweet has the potential to tank stocks and inflame foreign powers.
But it is difficult for journalists to challenge the tweets directly. Mr. Trump's Twitter is a press conference without a press.
...During the hearing, that power began to wane. From the opening questions, focusing on the President's tweeted fabrications about a wiretapped Trump Tower, to the midway debunking of his own tweet about the hearing, the medium no longer became a tool of propaganda, but a means of self-indictment.
...Flagrant lies are how autocrats flaunt power: it is not merely the message of the lie that matters, but its shameless delivery, as it implies that both public reaction and truth itself are irrelevant to the regime's hold.
On Monday, that grip loosened as Mr. Trump encountered a narrative he could not spin. The President has a new reality TV show; only this time around, reality itself is the star.
Reaching this point has indeed been a long time coming. On Twitter, Matt McDermott published a terrific thread documenting how the Clinton campaign tried in vain last summer to raise the alarm about Russian intereference. They were right, and they were roundly dismissed—in some cases even openly ridiculed.
They were also accused of trying to "distract" from the DNC leaks, by pointing out evidence that a foreign government was meddling in our election.
Last July, I wrote this piece: The Real Story of the DNC Email Leak is Trump's Terrifying Ties to Russia. It may be hard to believe, looking at that now, how much of the information currently being investigated was available way back then. But it was. At the time, I wrote:
If what comes out of this story is somehow, once again, that Hillary Clinton is History's Greatest Monster, then we are well and truly fucked.Welp.
Because right now, the only person standing between a man who is possibly (and likely) compromised by a foreign government, and whose aides have already changed the Republican platform in a way that benefits that government, is Hillary Clinton. And hers is the only campaign raising that alarm.
If you look at that and think it's her campaign doing the distracting, I despair for our collective future. I really do.
The people and the press had a chance to pay attention to this stuff when we still had a chance of averting the U.S. president being investigated for collusion with a foreign government. But nearly everyone took a hard pass, and now he's the sitting president, and here we are, in a situation so unprecedented that we're not even sure how to wrap our heads around it.
And the cynical partisans of the GOP Congressional caucus are tasked with accountability, and have no desire to actually hold anyone accountable. Because their only loyalty is to the preservation of power, not to this country. That should be abundantly clear by now.
Relatedly, this is the thought that won't abandon its post at the forefront of my thought:
@sarahkendzior What's freaking me out about being at this point is how we may not have reached it if TrumpCo weren't so utterly reckless.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) March 21, 2017
What I mean by that is: We may never have come to this place if Trump and his staff and his associates had not brazenly flaunted the law and our democratic norms. If they'd better concealed their miscreancy, we might not have arrived at the precipice of truth.
(As if to prove my point, as I was writing this, I saw a Washington Post piece on new documents that reportedly show former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort "laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan." The piece notes: "The documents were left behind in a safe, [Serhiy Leshchenko, lawmaker and journalist] said, adding that Manafort's signature and his company seal were proof that the documents were authentic.")
It was a long time coming, but it may never have come at all, if Trump et. al. hadn't made it impossible to ignore.
Because there were so many people in positions of power who desperately wanted to ignore it.
That should shake us all, no matter how this turns out.