Trump never changes, it seems. He only gets worse, and closer to the extreme point where his gross insensitivity could make him politically irrelevant.
In an interview with Just The News, the former President pushed an unproven claim about alleged business dealings in Russia by Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump also urged Putin to release any information he might have on the younger Biden’s business transactions — even though it’s far from clear that the Kremlin has access to any.
Seeking Russian help to attack a political foe is a familiar maneuver by Trump. He tried and failed to manufacture a scandal involving Biden’s son in 2019. The difference this time, though, is that Putin now is a reviled figure around the world due to his scorched-earth invasion of Ukraine.
Trump could not have chosen a worse moment to remind us that, for years, he cozied up to the Kremlin leader while alienating America’s allies and intelligence services. The former President’s latest misinformation scheme involves the same target, the Bidens. It also involves an old Trump ally, Putin, who Biden has recently called both a “war criminal” and a “butcher.”
The entire charade can’t help but remind us of the earlier scandal in July 2019, when Trump attempted to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating then-candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Though Trump denied there was any “quid pro quo” in his ask of Zelensky, he then delayed the transfer of promised military aid, which Ukraine needed for its ongoing war with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern region of the country.
John Solomon, the journalist who reported on Trump’s most recent Putin comments to Just The News, played a key role in the 2019 scheme. He used his platform at The Hill to inspire Trump’s effort to use a foreign power to smear Hunter Biden.
By reprising his role as an outlet for Trump’s new anti-Biden scheme, Solomon demonstrates that Trump is up to his old tricks.
Is there any reason for the former President to make such risky moves at this time? It’s possible that he’s so hungry for attention that he’ll do anything to get it. However, it’s more likely that he wants to divert the gaze of the news media, which is currently focused on his worsening troubles with the courts and with the congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
This week, The Washington Post and CBS News reported that official records show an over seven-hour gap in the White House phone logs on the day of the riot. The gap in the logs, which are supposed to note all of the President’s phone calls, suggests that someone might have tried to hide evidence of Trump’s activities on that bloody day. (A spokesperson for Trump told the Post and CBS News that the former President was not involved in maintaining the White House records and assumed all of his calls from him have been preserved.)
As CNN previously reported, Trump called Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the attack. None of these calls were present in the shared White House records.
In addition to the news about the suspicious records gap, Trump has been vexed this week by bad news from the courts.
In California, a judge hearing a case related to the January 6 attack declared that Trump “more likely than not” committed crimes in attempting to disrupt the congressional certification of the election. He also said that the Trump team’s effort to stop Congress’ certification of the 2020 election, which Biden won, constitutes “a coup in search of a legal theory.”
And in another development this week, a New York judge demanded the Trump Organization quit stalling and release documents sought in a civil investigation headed by the state attorney general.
Throughout his political life, Trump has sought to gain power in part by dominating the news agenda and demonstrating that he could defy convention. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” was how he once put it.
Now, with the American people largely united against Russia, Trump’s appeal to Putin with yet another anti-Biden ploy seems tone-deaf. One cannot help but wonder if this is the moment when he begins to lose his once-iron grip on his loyal political base.