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The Mueller report: noir nonfiction

Try to take a step back and think of the Mueller Report as a noir narrative, one that began with the memorable ride by Donald and Melania Trump down the golden escalator and The Donald standing behind a podium declaring his intention to run for president as a Republican. It was a head-snapping, incredulous moment. The gilded brander of hotels and towers, a card-carrying member of the media-hungry glitterati, famous for being famous, denizen of the red carpet, practiced at stepping out of black stretch limos in evening wear while squinting into flashing cameras.

What followed was so completely unexpected, so improbable, yet there it was: Donald’s rise in the polls as what was a crudely flamboyant bid to win the Republican primary coalesced. It was as if he were defying gravity, leaving in his wake a string of outrageous moments that created consensus after consensus among the punditry that this, whatever he said, would be the end of this reality television debut and Donald would be fired: John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured; Donald, MIA during Vietnam, liked warriors who weren’t. Getting off an Access Hollywood bus he unabashedly, chuckling, was recorded bragging that when you’re famous, well, you can grab women wherever you want. During a primary debate he complained that a journalist’s hardball questions were the result of her having blood coming from here and there. Mexicans crossing the border were rapists and drug dealers. Muslims cheered while watching the Twin Towers falling; and a ban on Muslims from entering the country was necessary “until we find out what the hell is going on.”

And then, defying all odds, he won the Republican primary. It was a Wow! moment. Republicans, this is your guy? Really?

Candidate Trump, letting Donald be Donald, offered not one coherent, detailed policy proposal. Instead, it was rally after rally of free-association monologues that pin-balled there and back, while the print-electronic press gave his campaign a can’t-look-away daily coverage. Crowd-sizes increased, the “Wall” meme was created. With Mexico paying for it. “Crooked Hillary” became a durable foil with chants of “Lock her up!” emanating from now red-hatted MAGA supporters. Nothing seemed off limits. Donald mimicked a handicapped journalist; he waxed poetic about a Muslim registry; he denigrated the news coverage he craved, calling the media “fake news” and “the enemy of the people” inciting his supporters, sneering at Washington and promising to “drain the swamp.” Women stepped forward and accused him of sexual assault. Truthiness and alternative facts took stage center.

It was clear that something was happening and the Hillary-Trump debates only seemed to validate his defiance of all norms. It was theater and then some, a political Cirque du Soliel, and in early November of 2016, after asking black voters to give him a shot — “What have you got to lose?” — and women, reminding them to forget the previous “locker room talk” or his suggestion that women who got abortions should be “punished,” Donald won the election.

Watching the evening coverage was breathtaking and there wasn’t enough disbelief to go around. Did 63 million Americans really walk into voting booths and pull the Trump lever? Had we all been watching the same Donald? As for those 3 million more popular votes garnered by Hillary, well, that was, according to Trump himself, proof of rampant voter fraud and non-citizens were clearly bused to polling stations by Dems and “We will look into it.” They did and then they didn’t.

Often, over the last two-plus years, I have paused, convinced that this unwavering 35 to 45 percent, now referred to as Trump’s base (including the Republicans in Congress), are prepared to ignore any and all revelations of corruption, ineptitude, campaign malfeasance and Russian complicity in Trump’s election. But more about that and the Mueller Report in part two.

Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.

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