Midterm Time Capsule, 35 Days to Go: ‘Outright Fraud’

Donald Trump, in Mississippi, a few hours after the New York Times story on his financial history came out. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

About the author: James Fallows is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, and author of the newsletter Breaking the News. He was chief White House speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, and is a co-founder, with his wife, Deborah Fallows, of the Our Towns Civic Foundation.

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The huge New York Times report today by David Barstow, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner, five weeks before the midterm elections of 2018, is a counterpart to the Access Hollywood tape that came out four weeks before the presidential election of  2016.

Why? Each of them involved allegations that, in any previous election cycle, would have ended a campaign or triggered major investigations.

In 2016: “You can grab ‘em by the pussy,” on tape.
In 2018: a long record of “outright fraud” by a president who has refused to disclose his tax returns or any other financial information.
From the New York Times.

To put this in perspective: the entire Kenneth Starr investigation of Bill Clinton, which by 1998 led to his impeachment, began with exposes and hearings about the Whitewater real-estate “scandal” in Arkansas, which at its most garish interpretation involved well under $1 million, a minuscule fraction of the sums discussed in the new story.


The Access Hollywood tapes apparently made no difference in the election results two years ago. Will this latest financial data make any difference in support for Donald Trump?

Who knows. Here is the tally of Republican senators who (to the best of my knowledge) have said anything about it:

This was, of course, the same day on which Donald Trump, at a rally in Mississippi, mocked Christine Blasey Ford, for her testimony against Brett Kavanaugh.

Thirty-five days to go.