When it was first reported yesterday that Congressman Elijah Cummings’ home in Baltimore had been burglarized, some major media reports created the appearance that the burglary had just happened. That made it sound like Donald Trump’s racist tweets about Cummings had led one of his supporters to commit the burglary. But now the timeline turns out to be different – and potentially even more disconcerting.
Police in Baltimore are now saying that the burglary actually occurred at 3:40am on Saturday, July 27th. This has led some Donald Trump apologists to insist that Trump’s tweets couldn’t have prompted the burglary, because Trump didn’t start his tirade about Cummings until three and a half hours later, at 7:14am. And they’re right: short of a time machine, Trump’s tweets couldn’t have caused this. But here’s the thing.
It’s impossible to imagine that it’s a coincidence that Cummings’ home in Baltimore was burglarized, and 3.5 hours later, Trump randomly decided to begin ranting obsessively about the crime rate in Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore. Trump had to have already known about the burglary at the time he started tweeting. Yet the burglary didn’t become public knowledge until five days after it happened. So how could Trump have known about it 3.5 hours after it happened?
There are at least a few different potential explanations. Because Elijah Cummings is a Congressman, the local police could have immediately tipped off the FBI, who could have then told Donald Trump about it. But if so, then Trump took advantage of privileged information about a crime for political gain, which would be disgusting. There will also be those who ask if Trump knew about the burglary because he was behind it. There’s zero evidence of this, of course. But because Trump has been working from Richard Nixon’s playbook all along, and we know how much Nixon loved burglaries… it’s scary to even think about. The public deserves to know how Trump knew about the burglary before anyone else.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report