Maggie Haberman writes that the coming week may be among the most consequential in the life of Donald Trump. First, the January 6 Committee meets today on the teevee to debate and vote on criminal referrals. Hints have been dropped that there will probably be criminal referrals for Trump. That’s 1 pm EST, folks. I’ll be watching.
Then, the taxes:
On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee will meet privately to discuss what to do with the six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns that it finally obtained after nearly four years of legal efforts by Mr. Trump to block their release.
The committee could release them publicly, which would most likely be done in the final days of Democratic control of Congress.
Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal won access to Trump’s filings in November, after a long court fight, but they remain closely held, with only a handful of lawmakers and aides allowed to examine them. They’re still protected by strict privacy laws that make it a felony for anyone to divulge even basic details about Trump’s taxes.
But there is a way around those rules: Neal’s committee could vote privately to make them public, and that’s what the Massachusetts Democrat wants his colleagues to consider in a closed-door meeting now set for Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Go for it, folks. And then Wednesday the J6 Committee is expected to release its final report.
Some long reads worth reading:
Putin’s War: The Inside Story of a Catastrophe in the New York Times. No paywall.
How Trump jettisoned restraints at Mar-a-Lago and prompted legal peril at the Washington Post. No paywall. Trump sounds truly pathetic in this one.
On some quiet days, another aide, Molly Michael, who served as Trump’s assistant in the White House, has called around to Trump’s network of allies across the country requesting that they dial the former president to boost his spirits with positive affirmations. There’s nothing going on, she has told them, adding that his friends know how restless he gets when nothing is going on, according to people who have heard her appeal. …
… A longtime Trump confidant termed his Mar-a-Lago existence, where he has tried to re-create the trappings of the presidency, as “sad.” Comparing it to life at the White House, this person added, “It’s like a Barbie Dream House miniature.” …
…Trump took time to readjust to his post-presidential life. He was surprised by how much his Secret Service detail and motorcade had shrunk. He no longer had use of a major aircraft; Air Force One was unavailable to him, and his company’s TRUMP-emblazoned Boeing 757 was in the shop — repairs that took years, with delays that infuriated him. His living spaces were far smaller than the White House. And he was annoyed that his statements to the press were not getting much attention, four advisers said.
At one point in early 2021, Trump asked a team of advisers if he could summon a press pool — like the contingent of reporters, photographers and videographers who travel with the president — for an event at his Florida club. But there was no pool on call because he was no longer president.
“We had to explain to him that he didn’t have a group standing around waiting for him anymore,” one former aide said.
Trump Campaign’s Big Idea: Get the NFT-Hawking Former President to Focus on “Policy” by Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair.
Fortunately for him, the brains at Trump campaign headquarters have a plan to reverse his fortunes: According to the Wall Street Journal, advisers to the former president are preparing to send him out early next year on a tour of “policy events” across the country in order to “remind voters of the ideas Mr. Trump advanced during his time in office.”
“If he runs on his record,” Republican Representative Randy Weber told the paper, “he’s got a lot to run on.” …
… There are, of course, a couple big problems with this policy-centric campaign strategy.
The most obvious is he doesn’t have any real policy ideas. Oh, sure, he has opinions — let’s buy Greenland, let’s build a big beautiful wall, let’s re-run the election from two years ago, and so on. But none of that is really policy, and unless he’s spent his month in Mar-a-Lago exile doing a hell of a lot of cramming, it’s hard to imagine him suddenly changing. Susie Wiles, his incoming campaign manager, is just the latest to indulge in the delusion of a more disciplined Trump — and, like the others who have sought to keep him focused, it’s only a matter of time before she collides head-first with the reality of who he is.
That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, politically. While he proved a useful means to an end for other Republicans’ agendas — mostly related to tax cuts, the judiciary, and the border — Trump’s appeal on the right has never actually been about policy, but about his unique ability to inflict pain on the people they don’t like. The trouble is, he even seems to be losing his knack for that. Yes, the demagoguery is still there. But none of it, in the early-going here, has seemed to burn with the same intensity it once did. His act has gotten old, the far-right has found new vessels for its cruelty, and the reek of his desperation is becoming intolerable — even, it seems, to some in his base. “i can’t believe i’m going to jail for an nft salesman,” white nationalist internet personality Baked Alaska, who is facing six months of prison time for his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, tweeted after Trump’s pathetic “major announcement” Thursday.
I wonder how people have failed to notice this.