Michael Gerson, one of the most eloquent and principled critics of Donald Trump, insists that we are at June 1973, the moment when John Dean’s testimony broke the dam that a year later swept Richard Nixon off into disgrace. Others agree: This is an inflection point. And yet an equally well-informed friend insists, “I no longer believe in political inflection points and neither should you.” Who knows? But even if we do not recognize the turning points in the moment, we can anticipate what the end will feel like when it does arrive.
To be sure, Trump could hang on until the 2020 election. It is even possible, if considerably less likely, that he could be reelected and march off into a glitzy retirement at Trump properties in Florida and New Jersey, his retreat from public life punctuated only by bursts of increasingly senile bombast. But it does seem more likely than it once was that he will go down in disgrace.
The mood of that moment was given to us in an episode now faded into the remote, pre-Paul Manafort-conviction, pre-Michael Cohen-guilty-plea world, when Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the flashy villainess of more than one Trump reality-television show, turned on her benefactor with juicy and not entirely incredible revelations. A puerile justice this: the secret taper of others taped, the once upright Marine general caught trying to bully the only black woman close to the president by locking her in the Situation Room while threatening her with legal consequences to force her resignation. Her betrayal of her benefactor proved a tawdry but revealing final episode in this particular show.