President Trump’s humiliating press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday was at least successful in one regard: It moved the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate one step closer to “full pee tape” as the reason behind Trump’s affection for the Russian Federation.
Since the start of the Trump administration, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has been calling for inquiries into the president’s “personal, financial, and political” ties to Russia. But usually she’s left the possibility as just a possibility.
Today’s press conference, to Pelosi, was evidence enough that Trump acts this way because the Russians have dirt on him. The spectacle, she said in a statement, “proves that the Russians have something on the President, personally, financially or politically.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, prior to Monday, had only hinted in the direction of kompromat.* He has asked on Twitter, for example, what the president is “hiding,” and last November, he said that “[E]very American should wonder why President Trump goes to such great lengths to avoid criticizing President Putin.”
In his statement today, though, Schumer for the first time offered compromising information as a possible explanation. “Millions of Americans will continue to wonder,” Schumer said, “if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.”
Note, of course, that Schumer still uses the cover of “millions of Americans” wondering this, not him specifically. He used the same construction in a press conference when asked if this was his view.
“His behavior is so inexplicable, and so against the interest of the United States, so against what all of his advisers have [told] him,” Schumer said, “that Americans are scratching their heads and saying, if that’s not the explanation, that Putin has something on him, then what is it? What the heck could it be?”
This is just where the Democratic leaders are after the press conference. Other Democrats are further in front. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said earlier on Monday that it’s “likely” that Putin has something on Trump, and that if it’s not the pee tape, then it’s “something close to that.” (We’ll resist the urge, for now, to speculate about what would be “close” to a pee tape.) Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, meanwhile, speculated that Putin may have turned Trump “into a Russian asset.”
Since Schumer asked—or conveyed what millions of Americans are asking, of course—“what the heck could it be” besides damaging info, and Pelosi is saying the press conference “proved” the kompromat theory, we will offer another possible explanation: Putin says flattering things about Trump, so our president, a walking bundle of insecurities, likes him. Further, his liking of Vladimir Putin triggers the libs.
Or it’s the pee tape.
Correction, July 18, 2018: This piece originally misstated that Sen. Chuck Schumer was majority leader.