Speed Reads


Trump's Russia troubles are just beginning, Watergate historian predicts

"If Donald Trump leaves office before four years are up, history will likely show the middle weeks of May 2017 as the turning point," writes Elizabeth Drew, author of a book about Watergate, in The New York Review of Books. His firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the main investigation into Russian election-meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign, led to the hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel. Mueller has already set up shop in a Justice Department building and is building up his staff and working on a budget for what could be a long, painful slog for the Trump White House.

Already, the investigation has reportedly reached the perimeter of the Oval Office, ensnaring Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. "If Trump has nothing to hide, he is certainly jumpy whenever the subject comes up and his evident worry about it has caused him to make some big mistakes," Drew writes, predicting that Trump's "troubles will continue to grow as the investigators keep on investigating and the increasingly appalled leakers keep on leaking." She continues by comparing Trump with Richard Nixon, who she says "was a lot smarter than Trump is" but made some similar mistakes:

Trump, like Nixon, depends on the strength of his core supporters, but unlike Nixon, he can also make use of social media, Fox News, and friendly talk shows to keep them loyal. Cracking Trump's base could be a lot harder than watching Nixon's diminish as he appeared increasingly like a cornered rat, perspiring as he tried to talk his way out of trouble ("I am not a crook") or firing his most loyal aides as if that would fix the situation. Moreover, Trump is, for all his deep flaws, in some ways a cannier politician than Nixon; he knows how to lie to his people to keep them behind him. The critical question is: When, or will, Trump's voters realize that he isn't delivering on his promises, that his health care and tax proposals will help the wealthy at their expense, that he isn't producing the jobs he claims? [Drew, NYRB]

Drew doesn't answer that question, which is likely unknowable. "What is knowable is that an increasingly agitated Donald Trump's hold on the presidency is beginning to slip," she concludes. You can read her entire argument at The New York Review of Books.