Imagine how it felt for the Trump administration.
It’s hard to look away from a train wreck. It’s impossible to look away from successive wrecks.
That’s what this summer, from Memorial Day until almost Labor Day, has felt like after the high note of a successful North Korea summit through a disastrous meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to Trump’s betrayal by former aides and the dramas du jour in between. It’s enough to make you forget, for a moment, that the President is on the cusp of getting a second justice on the Supreme Court.
Here are some of the key moments from a summer that included no break:
North Korea talks stall after summit
The summer actually started off pretty well for Trump when he upended decades of foreign policy and met June 12 with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It was controversial, sure — everything he does is controversial — but it showed a Trump in control, shaking things up like he promised, and moving, he said, away from a nuclear North Korea. Trump’s declarations that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat, issued immediately on Twitter upon his return to the US, have proved premature, however, as talks led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to agree with North Koreans on details of an agreement have stalled. Trump canceled a planned Pompeo trip to North Korea on Aug. 24.
A moment of weakness makes Putin look strong in Helsinki
When Trump stood next to Putin on July 16, he could have stood up for US intelligence officials, who have long unanimously said Russia actively interfered in the 2016 US election. But Trump won that election, so he’s been loath to accept anything that questions it. Particularly when there’s an ongoing investigation (he calls it a witch hunt) into whether his campaign colluded with Russians. So Trump seemed to side with Putin while he was standing next to the Russian leader, instead of his own government. It was a moment that gobsmacked the international community.
A self-inflicted immigration crisis that took children from their parents
Michael Cohen pleads guilty, implicates Trump
Paul Manafort found guilty, won’t flip
The Russia investigation continues, but special counsel Robert Mueller got his first conviction when Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief, was convicted last week in a Virginia federal court on eight of 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. There’s another Manafort trial coming in DC in September. The Virginia court, remember, is the one Manafort’s attorneys were hoping would be friendlier. Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly demanded that Mueller wrap up his investigation before the November election. But Mueller recently asked a federal judge for more time to work with the cooperating Michael Flynn. And Manafort’s second trial has yet to start. Which makes it seem like Mueller will not be rushed, much to Trump’s frustration at what he continues to attack as a “witch hunt.” It’s a witch hunt with a growing number of guilty pleas and now guilty verdicts.