Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

In my previous piece, I noted that Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time on January 11th that the Russians had been responsible for hacking into Democratic servers and stealing and leaking damaging materials. And that’s true as far as it goes. But he didn’t stick with that story.

I’d forgive you if have forgotten, but Anthony Scaramucci was briefly Trump’s communications director, even if he never signed the paperwork to get a paycheck or make his position official. Back in July, he went on CNN’s State of the Union and tried to explain why the president keeps lapsing into doubt about the Russians’ culpability.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, repeated the White House position that Mr. Trump remains unconvinced by the evidence Russia was the culprit behind the election hacking. He said that when the subject comes up, Mr. Trump cannot separate the intelligence findings from his emotional sense that the issue is being used to cast doubt on his legitimacy as president.

“It actually in his mind, what are you guys suggesting?” Mr. Scaramucci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “You’re going to delegitimize his victory?”

This is a reminder that we’re dealing with a crazy person. At times, Trump understands his campaign was sending people all over the globe to meet with Russians. He knows that his team met in Trump Tower with Russians who were promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. He knows that his campaign chairman owed a Russian oligarch $15 million dollars and offered to give him private briefings and hoped to be released from some of his debt. He knows that his son-in-law was meeting with Russian intelligence officers and Putin’s representatives and trying to set up back-channels to communicate with them outside of the eye of the American intelligence community. He knows that he promised a relaxation of sanctions, which is why so much Russian help was forthcoming. He knows he’s in deep shit.

But at other times, he convinces himself that this is just a big hoax drummed up to deny him the adoration he deserves for pulling off the biggest upset win in American electoral history.

I truly believe that these two states of consciousness do not coexist. He flips between them.

In other words, sometimes when he’s lying, he’s actually convinced that he’s telling the truth.

But it does no good to look at the established facts and respond by saying “What are you suggesting?”

He wants his victory to be legitimate, but it’s not, and I don’t know why there is this persistent drip-drip-drip of liberal columnists who think their highest calling right now is to lecture other liberals about being too outspoken about it.

About the only thing Trump is correct about is the fact that his victory won’t be seen as legitimate if it becomes accepted that he colluded with the Russians.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at