Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Worst Mistake of Their Lives

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the federal courthouse in Washington. W hen Michael Cohen first put Donald Trump in his sights, he obviously had a plan. Over a decade ago, Cohen owned a number of apartments in Trump-branded buildings when he intervened on Trump's side in a dispute on the condo board of Trump World Tower, in which some tenants wanted to remove Trump's name from the building. With Cohen's help the pro-Trump side prevailed, and The Donald was so impressed he brought Cohen into his inner circle. You can imagine what Cohen thought at that point. Here I am, working for the famous Donald Trump! This is going to be great for me. Money, prestige, globetrotting excitement—anything is possible. Cohen's association with Trump did indeed get him those things, at least for a while. But now that association is sending him to jail. We're seeing something similar with many of Trump's associates. They looked at Trump, a larger-than-life figure...

The Trump Scandals Were Inevitable

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson Michael Cohen walks out of federal court in New York. I n a sentencing memo explaining why they believe Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen should get substantial jail time, federal prosecutors contended on Friday that the president of the United States directed a scheme to violate election laws by making large unreported payments to buy the silence of two women who say they had affairs with him. Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller argued for leniency, hinting at more revelations to come regarding Russia: "Cohen provided the [special counsel's office] with useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with [Trump Organization] executives during the campaign," Mueller wrote. As extraordinary as it is to hear prosecutors make this accusation in an official document, you might not have greeted them with the shock they deserve, since we've know about...

Republicans Against Democracy

Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, right, smiles after being elected to the post of Senate Majority Leader during a meeting of the Senate Republican caucus in the State Capitol. " Can we really get away with this?" It's a question I've often wondered if Republicans ask themselves, but all evidence suggests that if it comes up, the answer they give is, "Sure—why the hell not?" And with good reason. Since Donald Trump became president we've heard a lot about norms, the informal expectations and patterns of behavior that govern much of the political world. We've discussed them because Trump so often breaks them, in ways small and large. There's no law saying the president has to release his tax returns, or can't publicly demand that the Justice Department investigate his political opponents—it's just how everyone accepted that things would work. But Trump, who has spent a lifetime being taught that he can do whatever he wants, determined...

Don't Mess with Nancy Pelosi

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. P olitics, Albert Einstein supposedly said, is more difficult than physics. It's full of uncontrolled variables, experiments impossible to repeat, and human beings in all their unpredictable cravenness, ambition, and ignorance. In our media-saturated age, when we call someone a good politician we're usually thinking of their charisma, their rhetorical skill, and their ability to win the affections of their constituents. The quieter work that goes on in back rooms is harder to see and therefore to judge. Except at certain moments like this one. Nancy Pelosi, target of endless criticism and thousands upon thousands of attack ads, is showing what it means to be a good politician. While she hasn't yet guaranteed her place as the next speaker of the House, she is busily dismantling the rebellion she has faced in the last year or so, what appeared to be the...

Donald Trump Will Never Change His Strategy

AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House. F ailure is a great teacher, but only if you actually understand you've failed and are willing to admit it. And when it comes to the midterm elections, President Trump admits nothing. Which suggests both that he has learned nothing, and that his 2020 re-election campaign—and everything that comes between now and then—will reflect that vacuum of understanding. On Sunday, Fox News aired an interview Chris Wallace conducted with the president, and the topic of the Democrats' extraordinary midterm victory naturally came up. Trump tried to insist that it had actually been a spectacular victory, not just for Republicans but for him personally. He repeated "I won the Senate" three times, claiming absurdly that the GOP's gain of two Senate seats was "a far greater victory" than taking the House was for Democrats. But confronted with all the ways Democrats won, not just in terms of seats but with key...

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