Here’s good way to think about what Trump just did, repeatedly, at his Wednesday press conference. Set aside all the troubling questions Trump won’t answer about Russian investment in his business projects, and about his advisers’ financial ties to Russian oligarchs, and about the growing consensus that Russian security services stole DNC emails, and about all the quos, like Trump threatening to abrogate NATO commitments, and his intent to dial back support for Ukraine independence, and his opposition to Russian sanctions. In other words, pretend none of the strange aromas engulfing his campaign were there and consider: Trump just coordinated with Russia in a way that would be illegal if Russia were a super PAC, in the hope that Russia will do something it would be illegal for a super PAC to do.
If at any point since 2008, Barack Obama had walked up to the microphones and given the presentation Trump just gave, it would have been remembered as the meltdown that ended his career. In this case, Republican leaders, including Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, are treating it as a gaffe that needs to be cleaned up with a quick denunciation of Vladimir Putin. I don’t know if I can handle covering another election after this one, but the good news is there probably won’t be one.