Back in the 17th century, this dude named Samuel Butler wrote a — okay, wait. Trust me for a bit. This is actually going to relate to Comrade Donald J. Trump and his ex-buddy Michael Cohen. Honest, I wouldn’t lie to you. Not about this anyway.
Right, so back in the 17th century, this dude named Samuel Butler wrote a mock heroic poem about the adventures of a knight-errant called Hudibras and his squire Ralpho. It was basically a British rip-off of Don Quixote. At one point in the poem Hudibras gets himself in trouble and winds up in the stocks. In order to get released, he promises to flagellate himself — which, of course, Hudibras really doesn’t want to do. So his squire tells him that breaking that promise is really sorta kinda holy. Almost saintly, in fact.
For breaking of an oath, and lying,
Is but a kind of self-denying;
A Saint-like virtue: and from hence
Some have broke oaths by Providence
Some, to the glory of the Lord,
Perjur’d themselves, and broke their word
Lying and perjury. That brings us to Trump and Cohen. Cohen has now claimed that Comrade Trump was aware of the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower before it occurred. You’ll remember this was the meeting at which Trump the Lesser, Manafort, Kushner, a few other folks, sat down with a Whitman’s Sampler of Russian agents in order to get ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. This is Collusion 101. Fundamental collusion stuff.
Trump the Elder, of course, denies it. Totally denies it. Denies the absolute hell out of it. This morning he tweeted (and Jeebus, how embarrassing is it to have a president whose main form of…aw, fuck it, never mind) the following:
I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam
This leads to the obvious question: “Is Comrade Trump lying?” Which leads to the obvious answer: “Ha ha ha what? Yeah, of course he is, this is Donald Fucking Trump, y’all.” Let’s pause for a brief moment and review the various accounts Trump has given of that meeting (not verbatim).
— Meeting? What meeting? There was no meeting.
— Oh, that meeting. Yeah, there was a meeting, but it was about adoption. Oh, and I didn’t know about it.
— Okay, okay, the meeting was about getting dirt on Crooked Hillary, but the Russians didn’t have any.
— Well, maybe they had some, but they didn’t offer it to us.
— Okay, yeah, they offered some dirt, but it wasn’t very good dirt. Did I mention I didn’t know about it?
— Well, okay, it was moderately good dirt, but we didn’t take it. And besides, I didn’t know about the meeting.
— Okay, we took it, but we didn’t use it.
— Okay, let’s say maybe we took it and maybe we used it, who can say? It was a long time ago and memories keep changing, and anyway, so what?
In other words, Comrade Trump has lied about this event like a thousand different times. We certainly have no reason to believe him now. But here’s the problem with dealing with Trump and anybody Trump has dealt with regularly: all of these fuckers lie. They lie all the time about anything at all. It’s as natural to them as water is to a goldfish. It’s the environment in which they live and function.
I’d like to believe Cohen is telling the truth about this — that Trump DID know about the meeting in advance. But Cohen, like Trump, is an inveterate liar and the thing about liars is that they lie. So who the hell knows?
Okay, back to Hudibras for half a moment. Here’s maybe the most famous line from the poem: “I smell a rat; Ralpho, thou dost prevaricate.”
I smell a rat. A lot of rats. I don’t know if Michael Cohen is telling the truth this time. I assume Trump is lying. It’s very possible they’re both lying. I mean, it’s possible Cohen has no idea whether or not Trump knew about the meeting, and he’s lying about it because he’s pissed at Trump and would like to drop him deeper in the shit. And it’s possible Trump did know about it and is lying because he’s a fucking liar. It’s also possible Trump didn’t know about it, because his campaign was run by crooks and amateurs so stupid they couldn’t pour piss out of a boot.
But I know this much. When it comes to Comrade Trump, I smell a rat. A whole nest of rats. It’s rats all the way down.
Editorial Note 1: That ‘I smell a rat’ line is usually attributed to Patrick Henry, speaking during the Constitutional Convention in 1776. But Butler wrote his poem a century before that took place. He owns the line. There’s some useless information for you.
Editorial Note 2: You probably know the turtle anecdote, but here it is in brief. William James gave a lecture on astronomy and the structure of the solar system. Afterwards, he’s accosted by an old woman, who claims the earth can’t revolve around the sun because the earth rests on the back of a giant turtle. “And what does that turtle stand on, madam?” “It stands on the back of a larger turtle.” “And pray, what does that turtle stand on?” “You’re a very clever man, Mr. James, but it’s turtles all the way down.”