Former president Bill Clinton had a private telephone conversation in late spring with Donald Trump at the same time that the billionaire investor and reality-television star was nearing a decision to run for the White House, according to associates of both men.The story is in The Washington Post, and the lead author is Robert Costa, who used to write for National Review and whose sources include many prominent Republicans. I assume the party has been saving this up for the eve of the first debate and fed it to Costa.
Four Trump allies and one Clinton associate familiar with the exchange said that Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape.
Clinton’s personal office in New York confirmed that the call occurred in late May, but an aide to Clinton said the 2016 race was never specifically discussed and that it was only a casual chat.
But will Republican voters get the intended message -- that Trump is a traitor deployed by the evil Clintons to divide the GOP and guarantee Hillary's election? The fact that four "Trump allies" confirmed the story tells me that either Trump isn't worried about that possibility or his "allies" are very, very stupid.
He'll be asked about this -- probably before the debate, not during it. But he's shown a gift for brushing off these apparent threats to his campaign. I think he's going to say something like this: Did I speak to him? Of course I did. He used to be president of the United States. Plus, he's a very bright guy, and a very politically astute guy -- unlike his wife, who's not very bright. I didn't speak to her. Why would I bother? What could she possibly have to say that would be of any use to me?
I think a response like that would mollify his fans -- though some damage still might be done by the report.
Or maybe not. On Twitter, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times has said that the call was recorded. I wonder if we'll hear it. If so, we may hear that it really was a nothingburger, and then the Trumpites will regard this moment as yet another unsuccessful attempt by the Democrats/mainstream media/GOP Establishment to destroy Trump. Thus, a friendly chat with Bill Clinton could help Trump win Republican votes. Really.