How Trump handles scandal: Conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory

Does Trump believe this? Who knows? In this matter, sincerity is downright scary. It means we have a conspiracy-minded, 71-year-old Fox News viewer engaged in a strange feedback loop with conservative cable television — each encouraging the delusions of the other. In the process, Trump is further alienating an already-alienated segment of the population, making them more open to the suggestion that he is the victim — not of his own ineptness and corruption — but of sedition.

Why is this a danger to democracy? People who believe conspiracy theories cease to believe in the possibility of discourse and deliberation. When the whole game is rigged, debates can only be decided by power. At stake in our political moment is respect for the rule of law itself. A president who doesn’t like being subject to the rules is attempting to discredit the enforcers of the rules. It has been tried before, but seldom with a heavier hand.

Perhaps most frightening is how enthusiastically some GOP members of Congress have taken to Trump’s strategy — and how quickly this has intimidated most others in the caucus.