Trump Is a Mob Boss Whose Omertà Has Started to Fail

In the opening paragraph of Ruth Marcus’ latest column about Donald Trump, she admits that on July 21, 2015, she assured readers, “Do not worry about Donald Trump becoming president.”

It’s only fair, I guess, for me to start a response to Marcus’ column by noting that on July 30, 2015, I told people to worry.

[S]o long as the base continues to eat up Trump’s schtick –the Republicans are going to be stuck with him, because they have few means of controlling him and even fewer to limit any damage he might do if provoked.


If all proceeds as things appear to be proceeding — although, yes, it is far too early to say for certain that it will — Republicans will ultimately be applauding the prospect of President Trump.

Marcus’ 2015 column wasn’t all embarrassingly wrong. She correctly noted that slightly over half of Republicans still recognized that Trump did not ideologically match the Republican party, then observed that Trump provided one to replace Republican ideology: Trumpism.

56 percent of all those surveyed, and 54 percent of Republicans, said Trump does not reflect the “core values” of the Republican Party.


Trump’s appeal will, hopefully, be fleeting, but it feels different from the flavor-of-the-month parade of GOP front-runners — Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum — four years ago. His prominence cannot be attributed to simple celebrity and name recognition.

More than any of those predecessors, it taps into a fundamental anger among a portion of the electorate. Trump is the un-Reagan — unsmiling and unmoored to any ideology other than Trumpism — but his surly message matches the times.

In this week’s column, Marcus cited several other of her columns about Trump. A December 2020 one in response to a long video sowing the Big Lie that would, a month later, incite an attack on the nation’s Capitol, observed that Trump will say what he needs to, even while Marcus hoped that Trump would just melt away.

He will say whatever he needs at the time he needs to say it.

Deluded or evil — in the end, it makes little difference. What matters is the impact of Trump’s words. Perhaps we are in the final, most florid throes of Trump and Trumpism. No doubt it will be far harder to play the bully without the bully pulpit. I have always thought of the Republican Party — Republican elected officials, especially — under the thumb of Trump like the flying monkeys under the Wicked Witch of the West. Once Dorothy throws water on the witch and she melts, the monkeys rejoice in her demise — and their liberation.

What’s worrisome is that Trump isn’t melting — not fast enough, anyway.

An August 2022 one, which doesn’t mention the January 6er who, weeks earlier, had responded to Trump’s incitement and tried to breach the Cincinnati FBI office before dying in a standoff with cops, describes that Trump and Lindsey Graham were promising violence if Trump were charged.

Donald Trump and his defenders are using a version of that gambit to deter the Justice Department from prosecuting the former president, arguing that going after Trump would dangerously incite his already angry followers.

From there, Marcus engages in a factual analysis of the differences between Hillary’s use of a private server and Trump’s theft of highly classified documents, as if that would dissuade anyone from political violence.

This most recent column spends a lot of time reflecting on her — Ruth Marcus’ — thought process when deciding whether to write about Trump. Before July 2015, it was beneath her dignity.

There was a time, in the naive spring and summer of 2015, when I deemed Donald Trump beneath my notice and refused to write about him:

Then she tried calling him out for a while.

There was a time, in the increasingly appalling months and years that followed, that I deemed Trump too dangerous to disregard and I could not stop calling out his never-ending, ever-escalating outrages against American democracy.

Then, until he started riling up mobs in December 2020, she got bored and ignored him.

[D]uring his final stretch in office, and in the years since, I mostly averted my gaze.

As to this particular column, written over six years after telling us not to worry, Marcus says that, even though, “no minds will be changed,” Trump’s latest embrace of authoritarianism must be denounced. Passive voice.

But I mostly thought: Why bother? Shaming targets and convincing readers are the columnist’s goals. With Trump, no minds will be changed, and neither will his behavior.

And yet, there are times when attention must be paid — if only to lay down a marker, if only (grandiose as this may sound) so historians will understand: This went too far. This cannot be allowed to stand without being denounced.

Having decided Donald Trump will be denounced, Ruth Marcus then quotes him.

In full.

The entire Tweet that Marcus found required denouncing, she reproduces in full, and only then starts scolding: “deranged,” “hijacked,” “megalomania,” “bluster,” with each scold reinforcing the tribalism that Trump has always deployed when he’s at risk. In so doing, she has voluntarily become a bit player in Trump’s reality TV show, reinforcement to the mob that Trump retains the power to earn Ruth Marcus’ scolds.

Like Marcus, I don’t think Trump’s desperate wails should be ignored. But I think there is an alternative to “giv[ing] him oxygen.” There’s certainly an alternative to disseminating his screed, which always reinforces the tribalism that Trump uses to survive. Disseminating Trump’s words unbroken, I’m convinced, only serves to signal to his supporters where the dividing lines lay, while heightening the import of that tribalism and Trump’s role in it. Trump is powerful because the liberals he has trained people to despise say he is by disseminating Trump’s words for him.

I prefer to talk about why Trump continues to ratchet up his screeds, with each new week, using increasingly violent rhetoric to ensure he’ll go viral on Twitter. He has to. Or rather, as Marcus herself recognized, “He will say whatever he needs at the time he needs to say it.”

He’s contractually stuck on his loser social media platform, which means the quickest way to get attention is to invite the scolding of people like Marcus. He’s well aware that others — Elmo, Ron DeSantis, even Kanye West — have easier means to command people’s attention. Indeed, at this point, Trump was a mere prop in the reality show that Kanye’s handlers orchestrated.

And most importantly, Trump can no longer promise to wield the tools that led others to believe they could respond to Trump’s calls with impunity — the power to corrupt the FBI and DOJ, the increasing stranglehold on the Republican party, perhaps most importantly, the power of clemency. Trump’s latest wails came on a day when, after having been smacked down by two of his own Appellate appointees, even his most reckless and ill-suited attorneys were probably explaining to Trump that he has almost no options left but to try to minimize the consequences for stealing classified documents. His wails came on a day when the two Pats, Cipollone and Philbin, men who know how he used pardons to pay off coup-conspirators and how he incited a mob to assassinate his Vice President and how he refused to use the power of the Presidency to protect Mike Pence, testified for a combined ten hours to one or more grand juries. Stephen Miller, Dan Scavino, and two others of Trump’s close aides also testified against their former boss last week. Trump even interspersed his calls for a coup with feeble attempts to discount any verdict a jury might soon — today, perhaps! — deliver against his eponymous corporate person.

Trump’s a mob boss whose omertà has started to fail.

Don’t get me wrong. Trump is dangerous as hell, and his mob will continue to pursue political violence whether or not Trump faces accountability. Trump will not melt away and even if he did those liberated from his control may prove to be more dangerous without even something as squalid as Trump to believe in.

But he is also, at this moment, as vulnerable as he has been in at least a decade.

And to a significant extent, his increasingly shrill wails are an attempt to hide that.

Yes, they are also an attempt to mobilize political violence to reverse that vulnerability. But we would do far better to describe all the ways he can no longer deliver his part of the bargain — impunity — than to willfully serve as content mules for his words of incitement.

101 replies
    • ThomasJ7777 says:

      This explanation makes the most sense.

      It seems possible that Trump both enabled and informed against the Russian mafia’s enormous money laundering and organized crime activities.

      Carter Page, Felix Sater, Wilbur Ross. Paul Manafort, the son of Justice Kennedy and others were all involved in these crimes.

      It could very well explain why Trump and others have not been prosecuted for crimes connected to this kind of international racketeering.

      It may be the reason why Trump will only be prosecuted for the espionage and seditious conspiracy racketeering.

      I would like to see the truth get an airing, but as for justice, I just want the hundreds of accomplices and Trump himself locked up and prevented from committing more crimes for a long long time.

  1. Thomas-H says:

    Thank you for this, and all that you, Rayne, Bmaz and the rest do! The omertà that seemed to work reasonably well for trump has been curious to me since he left office and lost the power to pardon.

  2. Yogarhythms says:

    Content mules. Says it all. Tfg, targeting the US Constitution contumaciously is chumming the Maga bait ball as he cinches the purse seine. Landing the catch is a lot harder.

  3. Peterr says:

    I think I’ve seen this movie before.

    From CNBC in May 2018:

    Stahl said she and her boss met with Trump at his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan after the 2016 election in advance of a recorded sit-down interview for “60 Minutes.

    “At one point, he started to attack the press,” Stahl said. “There were no cameras in there.”

    “I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?’” Stahl recalled.

    “And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.’”

    While Trump appointed judges and justices have done much that delights Trump and the GOP (Hi Dobbs!), they have pointedly failed in delivering what Trump needs: immunity for himself. In 2020 and 2021, the Courts — arbiters of the Constitution and the laws of the country — threw out every one of his dozens of legal challenges. Since then, they have been slowly but inexorably grinding away at the January 6 insurrection, the fake elector scam, the theft and retention of national security documents at Mar-a-Lago, and other criminal behavior that has swirled around Trump. Whether it is rulings on motions related to executive privilege, challenges to warrants and subpoenas, or actual trial verdicts, the legal wagons are circling ever more closely around him, and he knows it.

    So he’s going back to what worked for him before: if he can demonize the constitutional order that undergirds the courts thoroughly enough before they roll out what he fears as the big indictments, big verdicts, and big sentences against his minions, his corporation, and his own person, that repeats what worked with his attacks on the media.

    “And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.’”

    Instead of the media this time, Trump is going after the courts and constitution with all guns blazing. He wants to discredit and demean the judicial system and constitutional order, so that no one will believe them when they say Trump was responsible for crimes X, Y, and Z.

      • Peterr says:

        And a prosecutor could do quite a bit with Trump’s anti-constitutional rant in an opening or closing argument to a potential future jury. . . .

        “He has attacked the investigators who dug into these crimes. He has attacked the prosecutors who brought these charges. As motion after motion and appeal after appeal has gone against him in case after case, year after year, he has attacked the judges. Now he has gone all in, going after the constitution and rule of law. And when he did that, he was going after you: a jury of his fellow citizens, a critical part of our constitutional order.

        “He went after you and everyone who sits on a jury. You have heard the charges, heard the evidence, and soon will weigh what you’ve heard and render a verdict. It’s what we do in this country, to hold accountable the lowliest common criminal to the most wealthy and politically powerful. An honest jury of his peers is the biggest threat to his continuing pattern of behavior, and he knows it. . . .”

      • ThomasJ7777 says:

        In your opinion, how likely do you think that it is that Trump will be arrested, jailed (not home confinement) and denied bail, given the espionage, obstruction, and 18USC 119 charges?

        If they jail him and keep him there, then no more ability to commit felonies or bankroll or issue threats, right? No more collecting protection from those who have been compromised.
        No more ability to blackmail or bribe or coerce, right?

    • John Lehman says:

      “Instead of the media this time, Trump is going after the courts and constitution with all guns blazing. He wants to discredit and demean the judicial system and constitutional order, so that no one will believe them when they say Trump was responsible for crimes X, Y, and Z.”

      Just what Steve Bannon was hoping for.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Peterr, What a pointed and marvelously articulated insight! Dr. Wheeler’s post already had my mind revving high, and you focused my thoughts: For Trump, the judiciary (like the press) is just another institution. Once he perceives it as disinvested in furthering him directly, and in fact threatening to undermine his aims, it must be devalued preemptively. Unfortunately for him our constitution has been around for quite awhile and garnered a better reputation than Trump or his Orgs; his attempt to undermine or destroy it may be thwarted.

      But EW is absolutely right: our job is *not* to provide him a platform, in block-quote form or otherwise.

    • Katherine Williams says:

      He’s Gaslighting the courts and constitution now. What next? I hope he’ll be screaming about the food in jail. According to Martha Stewart, it’s really bad.

  4. GinnyRED57 says:

    Some of tfg’s biggest fans are what I call the Mutton Club – the blowsy, overdressed older women with dyed blond hair and overinflated cleavage. The rich ones flock to Mar-a-Large-o like cheerleaders at a 40-year reunion, the poor ones wear “T-boner Garage” shirts to rallies.

    What happens when their demigod’s physical and mental declines can no longer be ignored? Will they turn to De Santis as the new object of worship? Or will they be like those Elvis fans who visit Graceland and have home shrines set up to Him?

  5. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Trump could drop dead today and we still would have a major problem. He is merely the tip of the pimple, the zit. Our problem is all the puss below him. There are millions of very unhappy, disgruntled, disgusted Americans. They feel cheated, disappointed, slighted, spurned,scorned, in a word, BAD.
    The most poignant thing I saw during 2016 campaign was a TV interview of a bout six guys finishing breakfast after their Sunday morning motorcycle ride. They looked normal, clean cut, middle class- 30 ish. It was somewhere mid west, but could have been any state.
    They had already pronounced they were all ardent Trump supporters. The part that struck me, and stays with me to this day was when one fellow said the following :
    ” Oh, I know Trump’s not going to build the wall. I know he’s not bringing jobs back from Mexico and China,….
    The interviewer broke in and asked.” So why are you voting for him?”
    And with a big smile the interviewee said. “To stick it to guys like you!”

    That sentiment is what is behind Trump’s appeal. The minute he disappears these folks will seek out accept, adore the next snide, rude, blustering POS demagogue behind him.

    What to do about the zit problem I don’t know.
    We are a nation of malcontents . We live to complain . But these people seem like they won’t be happy without active conflict and bloodshed. The frothers have switched places with the groups they hated in the 60’s- the militants. They have internalized this caustic world view, they are preparing themselves mentally for their role in the struggle. It’s totally fucking nuts. They are terribly unhappy.
    And at least 71 million of them are looking for a new messiah.
    God help us.

    • Kathy B says:

      Just one suggestion – the frothing is not recent. Friends and even I have been on the receiving end of their death threats (egged on at times by GOP officials – it’s documented in places) for much longer than that. The only blessing at hand is that some of the death threats are less competent than others. There’s a local story about Jack Ward Thomas, a scientist who was involved in the spotted owl controversy in Oregon, who went on to become Chief of the Forest Service. He got a threat at home at midnight and scolded the caller that he didn’t take death threats at home, and to call him during office hours at the Research Lab.

      Others however are darker and more deadly. Point is, they didn’t just rise with Trump, they’ve been out there doing their threats and damage stuff for a long time, as minority communities have experienced for as long or longer. Trump and social media sure made them more visible and connected them better.

      On the bright side, we haven’t had a hanging in effigy here where I live since the late 70s.

  6. flounder says:

    Way back I asked Ruth Marcus during a “WaPo Chat” why George Will was allowed to lie in the Washington Post about the conclusions in a journal article about Arctic Sea Ice (the paper’s own author’s called Will out for misrepresenting their research).
    Marcus said that the Op/Ed people were allowed “latitude”. I’ve considered her a joke ever since.

  7. Benvindo Soares says:

    The Trimpian political perspective tries to convince folks they’re Robert Mapplethorph- ish with all these shiny objects — in the end folks are left with the aesthic’s of an insincere Jeffrey Dahmer.

    Void of any reasoning . Void of any truth….Just ” sheer contrarian make – believe”

    Oz, seemed to in the end, provide some truth. Even a virus leaves behind truth.

  8. Badger Robert says:

    How long can the former President rant against the constitution before elected Republicans perceive him as a competitor and not an ally?
    They have an opportunity to reject Trump, but nothing in this post by Ms. Wheeler indicates they are likely to avail themselves of the opportunity.

    • Katherine Williams says:

      Most republican politicians despise the Constitution, too. Remember Bush2 said “it’s just a piece of paper!”

      Trump is doing them a favor bringing the “Constitution is broken and must be fixed by US!” meme to the foreground, just as he did republican official racism, misogyny and misopedia.

  9. Rugger_9 says:

    While the MAGA rats decide whether to flee for the lifeboats, let’s remember that Individual-1’s power to promise is not affected by the rulings. Indeed, my view is that he’s promising the pardons, etc. to get his minions to put him back in the WH. It’s about self-preservation for the minions, because Biden won’t do it and it’s a matter of time before they get into AG Garland’s (or the Special Counsel’s) crosshairs as the investigators work down their lists. Only a victory for MAGA will there be a prayer to save these people from jail time, therefore they will fight harder (like the Wlassow troops in WWII).

    As for Marcus, scourge of potty-mouths everywhere (h/t Charlie Pierce), she unwittingly exposes the rot in the courtier press because for them ‘access’ and ‘latitude’ plus sucking up to the editors (who are RW to a person) keeps them employed. The reason Paul Krugman is still at the NYT (though sidelined as much as the editors can get away with) is because his Nobel speaks very loudly (as a marketing pitch) and he’s been right. That hasn’t stopped the editorial board at the Grey Lady to try out a series of RW charlatans to ‘balance’ Krugman’s observations.

  10. bawiggans says:

    Trump’s saying whatever he needs to say appears to be an instinct (or a compulsion?) that has heretofore served him well, but what works on a rising tide of novelty and the fresh blush of power may prove a liability on the ebb when he is scrambling for attention as a desperate, been-there-done-that celebrity whose show got cancelled. That he is already having to explicitly renounce the authority of the Constitution on his toy megaphone to get attention from big media probably portends his eating of a live rat in public sooner than later. Wait for it.

    (It is probably beyond their collective capacity for self-control, but it might dawn on the bottom feeders that they could induce a truly awesome outrage from him – and thus a delicious story – by colluding to exercise a little abstinence.)

  11. skua says:

    Targeting the US Constitution has downsides – the authority and paycheck of any judge DJT stands before flows from that Constitution, and, unlike the mainstream media, judges have (excepting when a Barr decides otherwise) DoJ, FBI, BoP (and more) to back them up.

    With his call for a suspension of the Constitution DJT now stands openly as a man who will accept no limits upon his actions, a man who is willing to destroy any obstacle to his goal, an outlaw and a monster.

    • John B. says:

      He has always been a monster and mobster. Only a few have not noticed or known that and I suspect most of them know too snd support him.

  12. BobBobCon says:

    The problem with Marcus is the problem with punditry in general — a deep aversion to thinking analytically and a disregard for details.

    The whole Ohio diner fixation was a stupid dodge by people who didn’t want to analyze. “Hardcore Trump loyalists still loyal” was an idiotic tautology — if they didn’t still support him, they wouldn’t be hardcore loyalists. What the DC establishment did by swallowing that narrative was ignore the ways tepid support could be — and eventually was — peeled off. People like Marcus throwing up their hands in 2020 only wasted chances to peel off more tepid support.

    And as far as her stupid Wizard of Oz analogy, it wasn’t the monkeys who celebrated when the Witch melted, it was the soldiers. In the 1939 movie they just disappeared, and in the book they remained bound to whoever held the magic cap that controlled them. But regardless, the monkeys have no relationship to the GOP. They do what they do out of free will.

    • Rayne says:

      The problem with Marcus is the problem with punditry in general — a deep aversion to thinking analytically and a disregard for details.

      IMO, these aversions and disregard share a root cause: privilege combined with a lack of self awareness.

      When Marcus said noticing Trump was beneath her dignity and

      [D]uring his final stretch in office, and in the years since, I mostly averted my gaze.

      she’s expressing privilege about which she is utterly unaware or refusing to acknowledge.

      Who wasn’t damaged or at risk of damage by Trump and his corruption? The same people who could easily afford to look the other way — and that’s privilege.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes. Most people who avert their eyes from the oncoming crash hope it will come out all right in the end, regardless of the odds and the little or nothing they can do about it.

        When elites like Markus do so, it’s because they know they’ll come out all right in the end, and can’t be bothered to worry about how anyone else will do. When Markus does it, she abandons her profession so as not to make waves and to feel good about it, while others flounder. The price of not being regarded by her peers, who are doing the same thing, as plebeian or shrill.

        • Rayne says:

          Journalism is supposed afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. I guess Marcus left journalism without telling anyone.

      • solong tinman says:

        Rayne and Earl –

        I’ve been haunted the last month by this from MR. FISH (Dwayne Booth). Quote is from third panel in a four panel image entitled: The Burden of Proof, and would hopefully lead one to download and get the entire studded collar, which I included at the end.

        “FACT: Questions of freedom and equality for women and black people have never been as important to white American men of influence as issues surrounding the maintenance and stability of their own personal wealth and economic solvency.”

        MR. FISH

    • Katherine Williams says:

      WaPo has a lot of “here’s whats wrong and here’s what to do!” opinion columns. Rather offensive. People who really do have a good idea of how to define & deal with problems don’t state it that way. They know how complex the world is.

  13. Jenny says:

    Thank you Dr. Marcy.

    “Since narcissists deep down feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault.” — M. Scott Peck

    • matt fischer says:

      Thanks for sharing that quote.

      I find the first clause spot on, but, in my experience, it’s typically not so much “the world” that adept narcissists choose to blame as it is the “other.”

      So I would have substituted “another’s fault” for “the world’s.”

  14. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Thinking of Sociology classes back in college and the lectures on epistemology. The information operations of the right rely heavily on
    “the social construction of reality.”

    • skua says:

      I’m think I’m missing your point.
      With democracy, privilege, equality, fairness, justice, responsibility and so many other things being products of the social construction of reality (SCoR) I’m concerned by any implication that the SCoR doesn’t give us profound benefits. Indeed as social animals I suspect SCoR is essential to humans. Most of what I read on EW seems ultimately about which reality gets socially constructed. The post above by Marcy Wheeler and these comments below being examples.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump wants to abandon the Constitution to help him remain untouched and the center of attention. Toddlers try escalating their screams when no one responds to them, but Trump has infinitely greater scope to destroy more than his room.

    But Trump’s not a creative chap, except in how he reads trends and weakness in others, and then sells himself as the avatar of those trends. (Like Musk pretending he founded Tesla.) When he says the quiet parts out loud, while his fascist competitors try to stay under the radar, he’s speaking for a trend. The Supreme Court’s arch-conservative majority, for example, is part of that trend. It has been throwing out chunks of the Constitution and its own precedents.

    The fifty year precedent of Roe v. Wade was one of them. The next big chunk may be to create a super role in federal elections for state legislatures that their own state constitutions deny them, under the false theory that obscure language in the federal Constitution would give it to them. Ron DeSantis is doing similar things in Florida. Trump is a leader, just not the kind he claims to be.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Dahlia Lithwick has a nice summation of the constitutional rights the current arch-conservative majority is tossing aside, with mocking disdain for them.

      The context was today’s oral argument at the S.Ct. about the Colorado anti-LBGTQ-discrimination law. The wildly inappropriate humor was provided by Alito, who interrupted Ketanji Brown Jackson to deliver it. Gorsuch provided the overt anger when he compared Colorado’s anti-discrimination training to Communist forced “re-education” programs.

      • Clare Kelly says:

        Thank you for the Slate link.

        “There is a difference, albeit a subtle one, between erasing one class of people while reifying another, and mocking the entire project of balancing genuine, and competing, interests. It was the latter that happened today at the court.”

        I found no subtlety.

  16. Viget says:

    Well said, Marcy.

    Not sure how this ends but as others in the comments have pointed out, as indictment looms, Trump’s behavior becomes more and more bizarre and shrill.

    @Rayne- I’m thinking we might just yet have that Col. Jessup moment we’ve been waiting for.

    • Rayne says:

      If only we could see that breakdown sooner rather than later, and with enough frequency that the Blonde Boobs for Trump will shy well away before 2024 primaries.

      • viget says:

        You and me both. I was hoping that perhaps the entirety of the J6 report along with a well timed Special Counsel indictment might just do it.

      • Krisy Gosney says:

        I noticed a picture today of Herchel Walker supporters. They were mostly older, a little frumpy, white women. I think it’s manufactured. The thought being- Walker needs to show that women still support him despite the reports of violence against women yet because of his promiscuous past his women supports can’t look like they are being turned on by him ( but IMO I think they are, and could have “Get Out” fantasies). Trump’s women supporters need to show their being turned on by him to bolster Trump’s image as a strong, virile, young-ish man.

        • Rayne says:

          Or these little frumpy white women are simply authoritarian personalities and they’ve been told by their authority figure to support Walker.

          It could be both manufactured and that simple.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Do you mean the Daewoo group? I’m sure they had a presence in the DPRK shared Kaesong Industrial Region. I’m not sure it progressed beyond that but please provide the receipts.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          However, that conclusion of DPRK ties being problematic is contingent upon Daewoo being under the influence of the DPRK and the Kims and I do not see the evidence to prove it. They were part of the Kaesong project but until and unless I see something where Daewoo (a conglomerate probably bigger than the DPRK in value at that time) did something because Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il wanted it, it’s really no different than any other American company doing business in the PRC. There are several to choose from, and one could also include the companies sourcing from Bangladesh and India (et al) where rights abuses are rampant.

          Forbes would serve the public better by digging into M-a-L and the PRC spies, etc. caught there along with Ivanka’s sweet deals.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Not sure why my comment got yanked, but bottom line: there as yet is no evidence of any Daewoo footsie with the DPRK that isn’t routine business analogous to any other outsourcing to low-cost-labor countries. There were strong Daewoo connections with Syngman Rhee in the beginning, who was no friend to Kim Il Sung.

          I’d like to see the evidence otherwise. FWIW, Daewoo group imploded in the 1998 Asian financial crisis, spun off many of its components (which is why the name is still in use) and Kaesong is not operational as a bilateral setup (IIRC).

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The potential connection with North Korea is a liability. The bigger problem is Trump’s refusal to disclose his exposure to a foreign creditor, which is always regarded as a potential national security risk. Ask any junior bureaucrat wanting a clearance.

            Disclosure is meant to allow for that potential risk to be assessed, starting with whether the disclosure is accurate, or misstates or underestimates the exposure and to whom.

            • Rugger_9 says:

              One could also go after anyone investing in Apple for the PRC by that theory. Or, Ivanka about the Q-P-Q for getting her deals while Individual-1 was POTUS. Unless something else comes up, Daewoo to my reading is small potatoes relative to the debts owed to DB (i.e. Putin) and its partner banks, MBS, yadda yadda yadda.

              There would also be the question of the deals because the stench of grifting follows everywhere with TrumpOrg and in many overseas locations (like the PRC) falling out of favor means prosecution.

          • Rayne says:

            It’s not about Daewoo’s operations or its relationship with DPRK.

            It’s that a goddamned U.S. presidential candidate and then POTUS hid and lied about his finances and their relationship to foreign corporations which could compromise the presidency and national security.

            And if you want to see the evidence why not submit a FOIA to the New York AG’s office from which Forbes obtained this information instead of offering apologia for a South Korean corporation and the orange twatwaffle in bed with them into his first year in the White House.

            I also think your representation of Daewoo’s relationship with DPRK needs work:

            Daewoo is a South Korean conglomerate that partnered with Trump on a development project near the United Nations headquarters in New York City and on several other projects over the years. The company has ties to North Korea, Forbes reported, and was the only South Korean company allowed to operate a business in North Korea in the mid-1990s.

            Yet another case in which Trump managed to slide by without investigation or repercussions related to potential emoluments. Certainly could explain Trump’s ass kissing Kim Jong-un.

  17. Katherine Williams says:

    The whole Trump-Republican formula requires them to never back down, to always double-down on the dangerous things they say. So far as I can see, they have no choice anymore to even try to behave sanely. They MUST go full-crazy.

    Interesting phenomena. Is this what happened in the McCarthy era? The Salem witch-burning situation? That the perpetrators had no way to back off their positions, and had to go full steam ahead, doubling down regularly? Until they self-destructed?

    If so, I wish the repugs would hurry up and self-destruct.

    • Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

      It’s just a more in your face and obnoxious version of movement conservatism, mostly saying the quiet parts out loud.

    • rip no longer says:

      Strangely similar to the mob boss in the Kremlin who can’t acknowledge that his position is untenable; and has no plan B.

      Wonder if they’ve swapped notes?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think the Plan B for these folks, including wannabes like Kari Lake, is the same: double down on Plan A. Never varying is part of their schtick, something their propaganda confuses with commitment.

      • skua says:

        Putin’s plan b may be to use Belarus military to open another front and invade Ukraine from the north as early as do-able next year.

        There are those who want the USA broken up into smaller countries. And those who want US weakened permanently.
        Continuing the Trump-Repub delusion and calls to “suspend the Constitution” look like wins to them.
        Why would they want to change their approach?

  18. Lurks123 says:

    2016 was ripe for an outsider GOP candidate; in a parallel universe a different outsider defeated Clinton.
    Trump won more because he was an outsider than for who he was – say a 75/25 split.
    But after he won human nature dictates than fans and detractors alike would focus on the 25%. Which suits him just fine.

  19. Clare Kelly says:

    Once again, thank you Dr Wheeler (and Rayne) for articulating what also irked me about Marcus’ column.

      • Intoned says:

        Yeah I know, it was sarcasm at EW creeping closer to saying it.
        I see how the trump org problems are serious but also the way money and ambition have corrupted the justice system at all levels, I’ll believe it when I see it. People think that NY state is this bastion of democracy because it votes for democratic party candidates, and they ignore how corrupt the state legislature is.

        • bmaz says:

          “…money and ambition have corrupted the justice system at all levels…”

          I was in two different courts yesterday, at two different levels. Can you please explain to me how they were both corrupt and how you intrinsically know that?

          Because when I see randos on the internet spew that ignorant garbage, I intrinsically suspect they do not know squat about courts and/or have not actually been in many, if any. But I am in a lot, and think you are mostly full of it.

          So, tell me “Intoned”, what is your deep experience? And, before you respond, make sure to recognize that 98%, maybe more, of “law” happens in courts that are never covered nor discussed here and, apparently, nowhere you are. Try actually going to a few.

          And, while you are at it, please tell us how you think it should be done. Courts, and the “law”, are either elected or appointed by those representatives we do elect. How in a democratic republic would you do it to avoid the pervasive “corruption” you rail about?

          • DaveInTheUK says:

            I think you may have parsed the phrase incorrectly. “Corrupted.. at all levels” means that, at each level, there is a non-zero amount of corruption. It does not mean that every person within the system is corrupt.

            And it’s hard to argue when there is evidence of curruption at each level, whether it be Cannon’s weirdly pro-Trump misinterpretation of the law, right up to the Supreme Court turning a blind eye to blatent conflicts of interest.

            (Mods, I’ve commented here once before and for the life of me can’t remember my user name. I’ve made a long one for this post which I intend to stick to).

            [FYI – you commented in September as “UK Dave.” Your current username is better as it meets the site’s 8 letter minimum. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • Rayne says:

          People think that NY state is this bastion of democracy

          Uh, no. Don’t project that onto all people. New York State thanks in no small part to Andrew Cuomo’s machinations cost the Democrats the House.

          And New York City could have had Maya Wiley but instead they got that POS DINO Eric Adams — hardly a fan of democracy.

  20. Molly Pitcher says:

    I am more concerned that Trump is losing power, because he has paved the way for a more adept evil guy.

    The Federalist Society has gotten what they wanted from him, a SC which is laying waste to the constitutional norms we have enjoyed for generations. I think the SC and the Federalist Society are done with Trump and that is why he will get no help from the court in his future cases.

    The rest of the Right are afraid of their base and will not say anything negative about Trump, just in case he manages to run again.

    The Right is actually a rudderless ship. Trump is obviously without actual power to hand out pardons, did a miserable job of backing candidates in the midterms and increasingly says things that they have to worm out of commenting on when a mic is shoved in front of their faces.

    This leaves the Right ripe for a more sophisticated wanna-be fascist dictator type. They are susceptible to the siren song of a strong leader. I don’t think the next one will be as incompetent as Trump, who has shown where all the weaknesses in the system are.

    Maybe it is not so bad to have Trump around as a punching bag for a while longer. He remains an obstacle for the next guy.

    • giorgino says:

      “who has shown where all the weaknesses in the system are”. That’s a great point, and of much help. But as a system’s guy, I’d like to add that you don’t know what you don’t know. Those “zero day” vulnerabilities we hear about may also exist “in the system”.

  21. rattlemullet says:

    I am beginning to believe the most difficult crime to prosecute is a case of Seditious Conspiracy done on social media in full public view. Fully documented since before 1/6. Or is social media just protected political speech done with no coordination between conspirators, insert “eye roll”. The DOJ is the only hope to bring seditious politicians to account. I can only hope and my faith was renewed with the oath keepers conviction. Thank you for this post.

  22. marco L says:

    The 1972 film The garden of the Finzi Continis ( directed by Vittorio De Sica) should be a parable for the likes of the good Ms Marcus.Set in Ferrara Italy 1938 in Mussolini’s Italy and ends in 1943 . The rich and privnalged elite thought they would be immune from round ups, and they escaped arrest for a while and then one summer day in1943 , the Finzi Continis arrested and taken to a railway station. Next stop probably a camp in Southern Poland beginning with A . Ms Markus is from the same ethnic background I believe, she feels comfortable immune ( things like that don’t happen here, until they do ) And only a few days ago the Orange man honored guests supped with him ( Pharaoh and Hamen ) no doubt should those two princes of Evil come close to power they would send their goon squads out to round up a lot of good folks ( things like that don’t happen here, until they do ) and as the good Vinnie said their are a lot of angry upset people out there who would love to “stick it to them” . Its quite amazing that the Orange man has grandchildren who would in circumstances that Pharaoh and Hamen) come to put on black Boss uniforms would be numbered unless of course they became guest Arayans . I loved Vinnes writing i write this from the UK thinking Weimar, thinking poor Ruth M a clever clogs with no historical reach. Pack a suitcase leave it in the hall my grandfather did, but to late when the smart men in Hugo Boss blackl arrived.

  23. Savage Librarian says:

    Toodle-oo Omertà

    Pat’ll make, Pat’ll make faker man
    speak and forsake as a mob boss can,
    Pat him & roll him, mark him with a “T”
    Messy is the wise guy, making history.

  24. Katherine Williams says:

    In my internet browsing I’m coming across murmurs about how, yes, the Constitution needs to be updated. Amended. That the Founders intended it to be amended regularly. That is what I was taught; and people who studied Civics in Jr. High School ought to know it was the intent of the founders.

    But now the right wingers, with Trump as their loudest example, are starting to talk about changing, or even discarding, the Constitution. The idea may begin to spread among the faithful and ignorant. It might not do Trump any good, but whoever steps into his shoes (Desantis, ug) will make good use of it.

    I think we’re going to hear more and more of “The Constitution is broken!” in the next couple of years.

    • GKJames says:

      I wonder whether, in response to let’s-get-rid-of-the-Constitution rhetoric, it might be more useful — for journalists, in particular — to ask: Interesting idea; tell us more. With what would you replace it? Is it the entire thing you don’t like, or just some parts? Presumably, you want to keep Art. II, Sec. 2, or some form thereof. Is it a safe bet that Art. III isn’t your fave? Come to think of it, you probably don’t like Art. I, either, right? Etc., etc. The idea is to draw out into the open the thought-free nature of what proponents are saying. Let the viewing public (at least half of it) see for itself the absurdity, rather than have it mediated through journalists. (Not much hope for the other half, of course.)

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Conservatives have been calling for outright dismantling of certain parts of the Constitution for many years. Rand Paul on the 14th Amendment comes to mind immediately.

        Ironically enough, in Kentucky’s largest newspaper this week there’s a Paul-“penned” op-ed that states “The Constitution was written by wise men who were raised up by God for that very purpose,” though the thesis of Randy’s op-ed is that marriage laws should be left up to the states. Don’t bother asking him whether those “wise men” were “raised up by God” to enshrine counting Black slaves as 3/5ths a person, though.

  25. Bay State Librul says:

    “In 2016, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly denounced Donald Trump as “a faker” and said she couldn’t imagine the upheaval that would be caused by his election” Jeff Jacoby from the Boston Globe

    RBG should have been a journalist, working for the Washington Post. She is in the league with Marcy.

  26. earthworm says:

    The political cynicism here is openly displayed:
    ‘Might as well Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes….’

    I imagine there was a similar dynamic and scenario when the Final Solution was first mooted.
    Slowly let [supply adjective here: unthinkable, abhorrent, depraved] ideas out into the zeitgeist.
    Sit back and give them a nudge from time to time, watching them take on a life of their own.
    Does not take too long before a tag or meme become established political positions.

    Isn’t this why Musk bought Twitter?

    • Rayne says:

      First, you’re describing the Overton window approach to changing public sentiment on policy.

      Second, there is ample documentation about the Nazi’s development and implementation of the “Final Solution”; let’s not speculate on this without looking to sourcing first.

      Third, we don’t know all the reasons why Musk bought Twitter. We only know what he’s said and tweeted publicly.

  27. Fredo says:

    Allen Weisselberg is a reasonable facsimile of Frank Pentangeli
    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Please also stick with your username for future comments; you have commented as D Railleur/DC/Fredo over three comments, which is sockpuppeting and not permitted here. /~Rayne]

    • bmaz says:

      What in the world does that even mean?

      Please do not drop in here with some amorphous bullshit that nobody understands.

      And this is your third non-conforming username here, stop or be gone.

  28. Glen Tomkins says:

    There is this huge difference between Trump and any mob boss the US has ever seen — that the mob he is leader of is one of our two major political parties. We have had political machines in this country before that were basically mobs, but they only controlled small chunks of the US, with other chunks under rival mobs, and big swaths of the country not under the control of any political machine at any given time. These political machines either collapsed internally of their own weight or were brought down by external forces, if their behavior became too noxious to too much of the rest of the country.

    This divided, patchwork quasi-democracy was the only sound reason that we failed to get rid of any states’ role in federal elections, tolerated the indirect election of presidents, and had the parties hold national conventions. All those features of politics at the national level made for a saving compartmentalization. NYC, or Louisiana, might, at any given time groan under the heel of some horrible political machine, but the national ship of state sailed on, protected by the limitations of space and time the array of political machines were limited by from any of them taking over the whole ship.

    Of course there were far better responses to political machines possible, but the unsound reason for doing it the way the US actually did defense against a local becoming a national political machine had inertia going for it, and inertia is the most powerful force in the universe. Now that local political machines are not a problem, the only reason left for us to still have the EC and the joint session, the party conventions, and states conducting and certifying elections is 100% pure inertia. All of these features may once have been half-way understandable and justified as imperfect but at least doable ways to prevent some local political machine from taking over the US, but now they serve only as the means that the R political machine will use to steal the next election.

    None of these features are at all functional, and the only reason they haven’t yet been exploited to take over the US is that we have been for the last 70 years in an unusual era of respect for norms that kept either party from exploiting the awesomely rickety state of the actual rules that fail to govern US elections. Do not be misled into a false sense of security by the failure of Eastman’s schemes to exploit just one aspect of this sorry state of the rules, the joint session. He started way too late for anything but an exploit of just that one aspect. They will start with the nominating process this time, and will create the impasse that Eastman was aiming for much earlier.

    Trump is a mob boss who has never needed omerta. It is his unique strength that he always shouts out loud exactly what he is doing. Let the RINOs desert his cause. He didn’t need them to get elected in 2016, and he sure won’t need them in 2020, except as foils whose opposition just clarifies that he is different. Even if we put him in jail during the next two years while the Ds control the means to do that, that will not stop him from running and winning in 2024, and then it’s game over

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