Why you should care
Because Trump pulled off two enormous moves on the world’s center stage.
While the running theme of Donald Trump’s presidency — reportedly employed by the man himself — has been to compare it all to a reality television show, this week calls to mind Shakespeare. Specifically, As You Like It, Act 2: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Trump seized his global platform this week as only he can. The twin earthquakes of his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea’s release of three American hostages will reverberate for some time. In both cases, Trump was at center stage, deploying the first-person singular.
Tuesday, a grim Trump stood at a podium in the Diplomatic Reception Room to declare Iran “the leading state sponsor of terror,” and announce he would punish companies that do business there. A day later, he broke the joyous news on Twitter of the release of three American hostages from North Korea, then met them in the wee hours at Joint Base Andrews, where a giant American flag was hoisted from cranes as a backdrop. “I think you probably broke the all-time-in-history television rating for 3 o’clock in the morning,” Trump told reporters. Hours later, he hyped his next ratings-buster: a June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
Wildly divergent approaches to nuclear nonproliferation aside, here was a man with a keen sense of the images he wanted to send as he made history. Forget Barack Obama’s pen and phone; Donald Trump has the camera. And it’s always on him.
The spotlight also falls on those around Trump, and each passing day seems to reveal a bit more sleaze from fixer Michael Cohen. Aside from the foreign policy moves, this week saw the jaw-dropping merger of the Russia and Stormy Daniels tempests. Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, revealed bank records — the Treasury Department is now investigating how he got them — showing that an investment firm linked to a Russian oligarch paid Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC. This was the same company he had used to send Daniels $130,000 so she would not tell the world that she slept with Trump and that he hates sharks.
Cohen also might have paid off additional women (take a bow, Rudy Giuliani, for letting that one slip), and went on to cash in on the Trump presidency. Essential Consultants LLC raked in corporate payments in the millions on the promise of access and insight into the new White House. This all is just as legal on the surface as Cohen nearly tripling his investment in some Manhattan real estate in three years. Just mighty suspicious. And special counsel Robert Mueller was asking around about the LLC months ago. In this farce, he’s already skipped ahead to Act 4.