The simpler way to say this is that Donald Trump is a mobster, and he’s been a mobster all his life. He’s sitting inside a vast palace of corruption, looking down at the peasants gathered at the gates. How should he know what non-mobsters think or believe? Why should he even be interested?
This isn’t an idle observation. It might be a key to understanding this strange moment in American history. I’ve devoted a lot of mental effort over the last couple of years to making sense of the “Donald Trump era,” suggesting that it inaugurated a new age of revolutionary chaos, or marked the next stage of what Jean Baudrillard called World War IV, the post-9/11 internal conflict within the Western world. I still believe those big-think questions have some salience, but in terms of the current specific situation in American politics, it might be a lot simpler than that. Maybe Trump is just a big old crook, and the lawmen are now hunting him in classic fashion, by following the money.
It’s worth noting that Robert Mueller and several members of his team have considerable experience in tracking and cracking both organized crime and white-collar crime (which are highly similar in structural terms, albeit with more broken bones and dead bodies attached to the former). They’ve been trying to find a way into the criminal edifice of the Trump empire, which is guarded by mist, shadows and dragons, and now they’ve got one: The blatantly stupid mishandling of some payoffs to old girlfriends, which probably happened that way because nobody involved even understood they were illegal. As Donald Trump undoubtedly knows, Al Capone was probably responsible for dozens of murders. He was never even charged with any of them, but wound up in federal prison for tax evasion.