Can he survive?
This became the central issue in American politics late Tuesday afternoon. It’s also the only subject President Trump cares about.
With Michael Cohen implicating his former client in a potential felony, the president’s strategy of diversion and evasion collapsed. Compounding his troubles was the nearly simultaneous conviction on eight charges of Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager.
Trump will continue to bask in the faithful’s chants of “Lock her up,” as he did at a West Virginia rally Tuesday night, but Hillary Clinton is no longer his adversary. His enemies now are the facts and the truth. They cannot be jailed and have no personal shortcomings to exploit. Trump and his defenders are reduced to arguing that truth doesn’t exist.
There has been a habit since Election Night of 2016 to assume that revelations that would destroy any other politician will never touch Trump. The fealty of his base became a journalistic totem.
The manifest corruption of his associates and his administration won modest notice as Trump jammed the system with incendiary public comments and frightening tales of immigrants as “vicious predators and violent criminals,” his formulation on Tuesday.
Trump’s speech was a catalogue of antipathies and a gauge of his fight-back plan: He will make his survival synonymous with the aspirations of voters who despise liberals, fear cultural change and see Trump as their last-ditch defender in a hostile world.
“The Democrat Party is held hostage by the so-called resistance: left-wing haters and angry mobs,” he declared. “They’re trying to tear down our institutions, disrespect our flag, demean our law enforcement, denigrate our history and disparage our great country—and we’re not going to let it happen.”