The mystery over Donald Trump and Russia is taking a corrosive hold on his presidency, sowing accusations and hysteria that threaten to overwhelm his White House and drain his personal credibility.
Washington has become a hall of mirrors, where it’s impossible to distinguish between rumor and fact as conspiracy theories and partisan paroxysms rage — all arising from an alleged Russian spy plot to sway last year’s election that is now clouding the new administration.
The White House is finding it impossible to put to rest claims it has improper ties to Russia. Often, President Trump himself reignites the drama — apparently to his detriment — as with his sensational claim Saturday that his predecessor Barack Obama tapped his phones.
Congress meanwhile is becoming consumed by gossip and hearsay, while a drip, drip, drip of disclosures about Trump world’s contacts with Russian officials feed blockbuster news stories.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the intrigue over Russia, the election, and the new administration is deepening, and has the potential to distract the White House and the machinery of the US government for months.
Furthermore, ethical, political and personality dynamics at play at the top of the administration and incentives for Trump’s enemies to prolong the sense of scandal are complicating the White House’s effort to move on.