If Donald Trump’s foray into politics were a fictional movie, it would be the most hallucinatory bizarre horror movie of the year – and critics would pan it for being too unrealistic. That said, there are ways in which life is indeed imitating art. In any movie based on conflict, you know it’s near the end when the top lieutenants start being sacrificed, or sacrificing themselves, on the way to the finish line. The Trump debacle has finally reached that stage.
Yesterday, in the congressional hearing that received almost no attention, Donald Trump underling Carl Kline told the House Oversight Committee that he was solely responsible for handing out illegitimate security clearances to Trump’s friends and family, and that he wasn’t steered toward doing it by Trump or anyone else above him.
This is, of course, a lie. No peon like Kline does something this ambitious and corrupt without encouragement from above. But it’s the end of Kline, as Trump can obviously never use him to do his bidding again after this. We don’t know how Trump convinced Kline to throw himself away like this, but the House Oversight Committee will get to the bottom of it eventually.
Then there was yesterday’s other congressional hearing, the one everyone paid attention to, in which Donald Trump’s most effective henchman, William Barr, threw himself away. As a result of the lies he told yesterday, the admissions he made, and what Robert Mueller’s letter exposed about him, Barr will be playing defense for the rest of his time in office – and perhaps the rest of his life. Barr served his purpose for Trump in initially blunting the Mueller report, but now Trump won’t be able to put a crippled Barr to good use on much going forward.
It feels like Donald Trump always manages to find some new ambitious, corrupt, naive, useful idiot to do his bidding, resulting in that idiot’s demise. But the reality is that Trump is nearly out of henchmen, and he hasn’t been able to reload his ranks effectively. As the movie goes, once all the henchmen have been taken down, all that’s left is for the main villain to take a fall. Trump is now being forced to sacrifice people he can’t afford to sacrifice. His own time is coming.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report