By a day’s end, recalling what happened just 24 hours earlier becomes challenging. You can attribute the pace of revelations to extraordinary journalism (blasted out by social media in a 24/7 news environment) and the flood of leaks that spill out faster that journalists and voters can soak them up. Moreover, uniquely in this scandal, the president himself cannot keep from spilling the beans in interviews and meetings (with the Russians, no less!).
Given the number of people potentially involved in the scandal and the legal peril in which Flynn finds himself, prosecutors may have any number of witnesses they can “flip,” allowing the investigation to surge ahead at an even faster clip. Like the candy on the conveyor belt in front of Lucy and Ethel, the news comes faster than we can grab hold of it.
Most Washington scandals (Iran-Contra, Watergate, Monica Lewinsky) evolved over many months and years. In the case of the Trump fiasco, one senses we will have a full accounting far sooner than that. Witness interviews, depositions, document requests and grand jury testimony will need to take place, but we can imagine this all coming to a head this year.
Forget the overly ambitious GOP agenda (healthcare, tax reform, trade renegotiation). It is hard to see how the White House will manage less august tasks (keeping the government open, completing a fraction of the political appointments). A chief executive who never understood the dimensions of the job will find it hard to function at all for very long under such conditions, especially when he does not trust his staff.
We face the prospect, a dangerous one, of an immobilized White House. A wounded president and paralyzed government pose a great enticement for foreign aggressors to strike. The chaos Trump creates will begin to affect markets, which abhor uncertainty. In short, Congress, the Justice Department and the FBI need to work diligently and quickly. The country requires a functioning chief executive and commander in chief. We will not have one as long as Trump remains in office.