With the exception of a few promotional tweets posted by his staff, Donald Trump hadn’t said anything on Twitter for about a day and a half. That’s extraordinarily rare for him, and it’s always a sign that his latest criminal scandal has stunned him into silence. So there was little doubt that the Michael Cohen bribery scandal had spooked him. This evening Trump finally found his voice again, and promptly melted down about one of the bribes.
Here’s what Trump tweeted just now about the hundreds of thousands of dollars AT&T admits it paid Cohen in the hope of getting its way on its proposed merger with Time Warner: “Why doesn’t the Fake News Media state that the Trump Administration’s Anti-Trust Division has been, and is, opposed to the AT&T purchase of Time Warner in a currently ongoing Trial. Such a disgrace in reporting!” Trump has a point here. Unfortunately for him, the point he’s making is the opposite of the one he thinks he’s making.
You don’t have to bribe someone if they’re already planning to do what you’re hoping. You try paying them off if they’re planning to do the opposite of what you want, and you’re hoping to change their mind. So Trump’s argument, that AT&T can’t have been bribing him because he opposed the merger, is ridiculous on its face. Further, Trump did end up giving AT&T what it wanted on net neutrality, so his entire argument goes out the window. And of course this doesn’t explain the bribes from health care company Novartis and the Russian oligarch.
What stands out here is that, even though the bribery spooked Donald Trump into a day and a half of stunned silence, he’s now lashing out against it. Trump seems to have no idea how he wants to play this one. The initial lack of a denial was hurting him in the court of public opinion, and now his ham fisted denial may hurt him in the court of law.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report