Donald Trump stumbled through the week after a humiliating defeat in Monday’s presidential debate. In addition to all his other shortcomings (e.g. ignorance, financial chicanery, lack of campaign infrastructure), he can count three more.
First, the indefatigable David A. Fahrenthold has turned up yet another financial/legal problem emanating from Trump’s foundation. It seems Trump never got the state-required certification to solicit money — a certification that would have required auditing his foundation:
Under the laws in New York, where the Donald J. Trump Foundation is based, any charity that solicits more than $25,000 a year from the public must obtain a special kind of registration beforehand. Charities as large as Trump’s must also submit to a rigorous annual audit that asks — among other things — whether the charity spent any money for the personal benefit of its officers.
If New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) finds that Trump’s foundation raised money in violation of the law, he could order the charity to stop raising money immediately. With a court’s permission, Schneiderman could also force Trump to return money that his foundation has already raised. . . . “He’s a billionaire who acts like a thousandaire,” said James J. Fishman, a professor at Pace University’s law school in White Plains, N.Y. He said Trump’s foundation seemed to have made errors, including the lack of proper registration, that were more common among very small family foundations.
Ouch. This — plus allegations of illegality concerning potential business in Cuba during the embargo — will now dog Trump and provide Clinton with new avenues by which to attack Trump in the second debate. (Do we really think he is going to show up?)
Second, Trump’s problem with women and minorities is back with a vengeance. Even before his 3 a.m. Twitter meltdown, his attack on a former Miss Universe was a big problem. “The spectacle of a man possibly six weeks from election as commander in chief badgering a former beauty queen probably did little to reassure voters who worry that Trump might be too volatile and vindictive to trust with nuclear weapons,” writes Ronald Brownstein. “And the roughly three-fifths of Americans who have consistently told pollsters they consider Trump racially biased likely noticed that for the third time in months, he was disparaging an ordinary citizen whose ethnic heritage and facial complexion did not match his own.”
Not only does Trump seem incapable of letting go or avoiding the self-destructive attack on Bill Clinton’s ex-girlfriends (Eric Trump helped matters not at all by arguing Bill Clinton is the worst sexist of them all, a jaw-dropping instance of self-delusion, given his father’s well-documented misogyny); he now, with his outrageous tweets in the wee hours of the morning (including an invitation to watch an alleged sex tape of Alicia Machado), hands the press and Hillary Clinton an irresistible story line. It’s impossible to imagine that Machado and Trump’s reaction would not come up — along with any new bait for him to snap at — at the next debate. Trump cannot manage to conceal his obsession with women’s physical appearance or to avoid denigrating them. He cannot even refrain from interrupting, making faces and lying about his own statements. He is unable even to stay off Twitter. Clinton certainly knows this and will plan accordingly.
Third, people around Trump are treating him like a frail child, playing into his narcissism at the expense of honesty. The hapless Jason Miller became a laughingstock in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd when he insisted the online polls are “real” but the professional ones are not. Watching him make a fool of himself and constantly refer to his candidate as “Mr. Trump” reminds us that Trump has few, if any, truth-tellers around him. Right now the last thing he needs is a bunch of sycophants. As for a change in preparation, Rudy Giuliani proclaimed: “Why would we change if we won the debate?” Uh-huh.
In that regard, one cannot help but wonder if Trump believes his own nonsense. Clinton intends to remind voters that Trump is a liar or delusional with ads like this:
To put this in perspective, it’s really not 5 ½ weeks until the election. In less than a month, early or absentee voting will be underway in key swing states (Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Nevada, Virginia, Georgia, Iowa, etc.). Trump had better correct course swiftly and dramatically. That becomes more difficult as the financial, legal and personal liabilities mount and so long as Trump avoids press conferences, steers clear of real news programs and isolates himself in the Sean Hannity-Bill O’Reilly echo chamber. That’s no way to reach beyond your hard-core fans and to undo the damage of Monday’s debate. If Trump doesn’t figure it out quickly, the die will be cast before the last scheduled debate (Oct. 19).