Rick Wilson at The Daily Beast:
Trump must know this may be one of the most dangerous moments in his entire life, not just his presidency. The likelihood is that Mueller and the FBI are now in possession of the Black Books of Trump, NDAs from enough of Trump’s various affairs that you can staff a 12-pole strip club with plenty of girls left for the Champagne rooms. It’s only speculation at this point, but it’s quite likely that Cohen was the keeper of many of Trump’s lending documents, contracts, business arrangements, and the Kryptonite of Trump’s fragile self-worth: the long-sought tax returns.
It’s an open secret and has been for quite a while, but Trump isn’t worth $10 billion. As one of my hedge-fund friends (an actual billionaire) said of Trump in 2015, “He’s a clown living on credit.” For Trump to have the public learn that he may not be as wealthy as he has continued to claim as the central element of his branding would hurt him more than if Mueller then proved he took sacks of cash and a foot massage from Vladimir Putin. Collusion with the Russians is nothing compared to having his baroque finances revealed. Trump would rather be known as a traitor than as someone who isn’t one of the Masters of the Universe.Wilson on Paul Ryan's retirement:
[H]e was a fluent translator of Conservative to English, a bridge between Hayek and hope. He lacked the needy edge and insecurities so evident in this president and so beloved of the new GOP. Ryan had been the endpoint of a conservative philosophical movement that combined Jack Kemp’s optimism about growth, opportunity, economic freedom, and the value of work with a profound understanding of the painful need to reform how the Federal government operates.
Kiss that goodbye. Trump’s economic message is profoundly, inalterably negative, defensive, small, and bitter. It’s about how stupid Americans are, and how the wily Chinese and murderous Mexicans are stealing from us, tricking us, and robbing us blind.
His base is conditioned to having their fear centers endlessly stimulated by his constant drip of apocalyptic, conspiratorial rhetoric and fed hazy promises of the creation of walls, the smiting of the Asians, the launching of trade wars, and the kicking of asses.
The collapse of the economic leg of the GOP’s coalition is complete. We’re now the party of Credit Card Don, the King of Debt. Our base worships a man who’s own Bhagavad Gita reads: “Now I become Debt, destroyer of Republicans.”
Paul Ryan’s monument will be the the putrid and smoldering ruins of the Republican Party and conservative movement that he betrayed with his complicity and cowardice. He lacked the guts to stand for decency and the wisdom to confront the threat of Trumpism.— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) April 12, 2018
Paul Waldman at WP:
Let’s take a step back. One remarkable thing about the 2016 election is the way Trump’s business career was given such a superficial examination by the media as a whole. Again and again, some crazy story or unusual aspect of his financial life would be the topic of one or two investigative stories, but those stories wouldn’t get picked up by other outlets.
Making this more problematic, Trump isn’t someone who played close to the line a time or two, or once did a shady deal. He may well be the single most corrupt major business figure in the United States of America. He ran scams like Trump University to con struggling people out of their money. He lent his name to pyramid schemes. He bankrupted casinos and still somehow made millions while others were left holding the bag. He refused to pay vendors. He exploited foreign workers. He used illegal labor. He discriminated against African American renters. He violated Federal Trade Commission rules on stock purchases. He did business with the mob and with Eastern European kleptocrats. His properties became the go-to vehicle for Russian oligarchs and mobsters to launder their money.
So it was no accident that when he ran for president, the people who joined him in his quest were also a collection of grifters, liars, and crooks — people such as Paul Manafort. Those were the kind of operators Trump has attracted all his life. Honest, upright people with a deep respect for the law don’t go to work for Donald Trump.