During the election, just as the U.S. intelligence community was jointly announcing that Russia was trying to rig the election in Donald Trump’s favor, the infamous “grab em by the…” Access Hollywood tape leaked. The resulting sexual assault scandal hurt Trump. It no doubt cost him votes. But it also distracted from what would have been a far more damaging scandal, which exposed him as a traitor, if only it hadn’t been pushed aside. Now suddenly Trump wants us to focus on the Access Hollywood tape again – and we know why.
There are those who believe that Trump’s own campaign leaked that infamous tape in the hope of distracting from the intelligence report about Russia. Steve Bannon has even seemed to hint in interviews that he was behind it. But whether by design or by pure random luck, that Access Hollywood tape ended up saving Trump’s troubled candidacy. It put the Russia narrative at bay long enough for Russia to finish rigging the election for him. Now that the Russia scandal is about to eat him alive, suddenly he’s talking about the tape again, and he’s trying to turn it into a new controversy.
Specifically, Trump is now telling his own advisers that he doesn’t think it’s really him on the Access Hollywood tape, according to the New York Times (link). On the one hand, he is in fact psychologically broken enough to want to convince himself that it isn’t really him on that tape, even after he publicly admitted more than a year ago that it was him. On the other hand, there’s a reason he’s circling back to the tape and trying to make it a public focus again: it worked the last time.
There’s only one possible reason that the media would know what Donald Trump has been saying to his advisers about the Access Hollywood tape, and that’s if they leaked it to the media. So either Trump, or his advisers, want this story out there right now. And why now? Michael Flynn just decided to cut a deal that’s going to make the Russia scandal explode in a blindingly bright ball of fireworks. Of course Team Trump is trying to counter by setting off sexual assault fireworks as a distraction. After all, it somehow worked last time. But they shouldn’t expect the same results this time. The public gets distracted by shiny objects, but Robert Mueller certainly doesn’t give a damn about distractions.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report