The media coverage of the Trump-Russia scandal—which has merged with Cohen’s pay-to-play scandal, the Stormy Daniels scandal, and a wider foreign-intervention-in-the-2016-campaign scandal—has yielded a flood of revelations. Yet the news reporting tends to focus on specific components of an unwieldy and ever-expanding story: a Trump Tower meeting between Trump aides and a Kremlin emissary; what special counsel Robert Mueller may or may not be doing; the alleged money-laundering and tax-evasion skullduggery of Paul Manafort; a secret get-together in the Seychelles between former Blackwater owner Erik Prince and a Russian financier; the Kremlin’s clandestine exploitation of social media; Russian hackers penetrating state election systems; Michael Flynn’s shady lobbying activities; Trump’s attempted interference in the investigation; and so much more. It is hard to hold on to all these pieces and place them into one big picture.
These revelations do not emerge in chronological or thematic order. They arrive as part of the fusillade known as the daily news cycle. One day, we learn that Trump last year leaned on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Another day, we see headlines that Mueller has indicted Russian trolls. We learn that—yikes!—a former Trump campaign adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his efforts to put the campaign in secret contact with Putin’s regime. We’re told that Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign met with a shady character representing the princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who were secretly offering to help Trump. Or the big story is that Trump has acknowledged he dictated a false statement issued in his eldest son’s name about the Trump Tower meeting. What’s the connection? Is there a connection? And how is each new headline related to Putin’s war on America? Attempting to track this whole damn thing—while the nation experiences a larger hurricane of crazy—can make one feel like Carrie Mathison on Homeland. Do you even have enough string or enough space on the bulletin board?