The Slatest

Trump Vincibility Watch: The Postal Service Strikes Back

A long-haired Bannon, trailed by a law enforcement officer and a man in a suit, walks away from a door to the courthouse.
Steve Bannon outside a federal courthouse in New York City on Thursday. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Trump Vincibility Watch is a subjective and speculative estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump actually loses the 2020 election or, in other words, suffers the consequences of his actions for the first time in his life rather than wriggling out of yet another jam (see: the Mueller investigation, the Ukraine scandal, the 2016 popular vote, his six bankruptcies, and everything else).

Well:

• A bipartisan (!) Senate committee released a report that concluded, among other things, that Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) passed internal campaign information to “a Russian intelligence officer,” that Trump’s factually impossible claim about Ukraine framing Russia for the hack of Democratic emails originated at least in part with the same Russian intelligence officer, and that Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller he had no memory of a specific conversation about hacked emails that did, in fact, occur.

• The chief executive of Trump’s 2016 campaign (Steve Bannon) was arrested at sea on a megayacht by postal police (really!) and charged with embezzling money that had been raised from Trump supporters for the ostensible purpose of building a privately funded wall on the U.S.-Mexico border—a fundraising effort that Trump’s son Don Jr. was involved with as well. (Don Jr. has not been charged with any crime related to his work with the group.)

• A federal judge ruled that a New York City district attorney has the right to access Trump’s tax returns while investigating him for potential campaign finance, bank, and tax fraud crimes.

These events all took place in the same three-day span; one can picture any one of them (or, in the case of the tax returns, the eventual fallout) fatally wounding Trump’s campaign and/or presidency if they’d happened in 2016 or early 2017. Things being what they are at the present time, however, they barely even registered as campaign- or White House–related news. (Likewise, there’s no expectation that it will hurt the president in the polls to have given a quasi-endorsement this week to the “QAnon” conspiracy theorists who believe he’s been engaged for years in a secret, cataclysmic war against satanist pedophiles.) The fact is that somewhere around 60 percent of the American public has been convinced for some time that Trump is dishonest and criminally corrupt, and, as they say, it’s not a news story when a dog bites a man. The pandemic and its associated economic fallout are more pressing matters for most voters; the top political story is that a Trump donor has intentionally crippled the post office.

Joe Biden, meanwhile, continues to lead Trump by more than 8 points in FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average. On Thursday, Biden—whom the Trump campaign has been attempting to portray as a completely senile vegetable person whom “antifa” will easily manipulate into implementing full communism—delivered a tight, fired-up acceptance speech to conclude a virtual Democratic National Convention that presented his election as an imperative that transcends ideology. We have no doubt that the Trump campaign is cooking up some absolutely insane stuff for the home stretch—the Republican convention is next week, and it’s going to be weird—but it begins that home stretch several lengths behind the horse from Scranton. We characterize Trump as STILL PRETTY VINCIBLE.

A "Trump Vincibility Watch" graphic of six rows containing the letters T-R-U-M-P. The row that is highlighted reads "UMP," with a worker removing the R.
Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate. Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images.

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