All bets are off now

As I’ve been pointing out for as long as Donald Trump’s scandals have been unfolding, it’s overly naive to expect that those around Donald Trump will continue to protect him “no matter what.” Sure, Trump’s allies and associates are just as corrupt as he is, and yes, many of them are still protecting him because they feel that doing so is in their own personal best interest. But yesterday we were reminded that when push comes to shove, Trump’s allies will push and shove him if that’s what they have to do in order to save themselves.

Deutsche Bank faced a choice yesterday. It could either start coming clean about the embarrassing criminal antics that it engaged in with Donald Trump and Russia, or it could start facing the consequences of contempt of court citations. No one has ever accused Deutsche Bank of being remotely moral or forthright. So when it decided yesterday to throw Trump under the bus, it wasn’t because the bank suddenly grew a conscience. Instead it was because Deutsche Bank concluded that the best way to protect itself going forward was to sell Trump out.

Deutsche Bank confirmed in a court filing yesterday that it does indeed have Donald Trump’s tax returns (Trump’s name was redacted, but he was literally the only person being asked about, so by definition his name was the only possible name that could have been in this court filing). Deutsche could have refused to confirm whether it has Trump’s tax returns, or simply lied and claimed that it doesn’t have them. But Deutsche didn’t want to take that risk, and so undur the bus Trump went. The thing is, once that kind of selling out begins, it tends to continue.

It’s not all that surprising that after Deutsche Bank formally revealed that it has Donald Trump’s tax returns, it leaked to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell last night that its loans to Trump were co-signed by Russian oligarchs, and that Trump pays little to no taxes [update: O’Donnell is now saying that the story didn’t go through MSNBC’s standard vetting process]. And why not? Deutsche already put itself on a path yesterday to having to give all this information to House Democrats before much longer, so it might as well get the worst of it out there now, in the hope of getting out ahead of it.

If anyone thought that a multibillion dollar for-profit entity like Deutsche Bank was going to keep protecting Donald Trump even if that meant harming itself, that was an overly naive expectation. In the end, there’s no honor among thieves, and it’s every crook for himself. Similarly, if this gets ugly enough that Senate Republicans feel they need to selfishly take Trump down in order to protect themselves, of course they’ll do it. They’re self-interested pragmatic villains, not cartoon characters.

The bottom line is that all bets are off now. Deutsche Bank faced the question yesterday of whether it wanted to continue protecting Donald Trump or whether it wanted to continue existing, and to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, Deutsche Bank chose itself over Trump. As the true ugliness (and treasonous nature) of Trump’s finances comes further to light, all of Trump’s allies will face the question of whether they want to go down with him, or protect themselves by throwing him overboard. Don’t expect any of them to side with Trump’s interests over their own.

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