.. the biggest question might be why the President of the United States didn’t just let her talk.
.. her suit contends that she isn’t bound by the agreement, because Trump never signed it and because his lawyer Michael Cohen had spoken—and lied—about it publicly.
.. The suit also says that the Trump camp used “coercive tactics” to pressure her to stay silent
.. there had been intimations of violence
.. And yet the Clifford case is not only singularly revealing of the President’s character and his operations but also a likely harbinger of major troubles ahead.
.. Cohen said that it was his own “private transaction,” using his money, and that the Trump Organization and the Trump campaign had nothing to do with it. This never made much sense, since the Trump Organization employed him. But, even if Cohen’s story were true, it raised questions, more broadly, about where the money comes from and where it goes in Trump’s dealings.
.. President’s lawyers seem not to have considered what Clifford’s next move would be: challenging the arbitration. They had, in effect, engineered something of a win-win situation for her. Practically speaking, in order for Trump to hold Clifford to the agreement, he has to fight her in court—a process he began Friday—and come out and admit to the deal publicly.
.. CNN and the Journal reported that one of the lawyers who obtained the order was Jill Martin, another Trump Organization employee. (She was the point person in the Trump University fraud case.) A statement from the company said that, like Cohen, Martin had handled the matter only “in her individual capacity.” This paints a picture of the Trump Organization as a place where anything that the company isn’t quite supposed to do might be done as a personal favor, perhaps dressed up as an act of friendship or loyalty. It is a further sign that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s subpoena of Trump Organization business records, reported last week, might turn up a true morass.
.. With the President’s sons meeting with foreign political figures while travelling the world on business trips, with his daughter playing a diplomatic role with leaders of countries where she has commercial interests, and with his son-in-law seemingly marked as a potential recipient of foreign bribes by all and sundry, it’s important to know who pays whom, and for what.
.. The Trump team’s response to the Clifford debacle seems to have been driven by the President’s vanity, temper, and resentment. All of those have also been on display in his larger response to Mueller’s investigation, from his firing of James Comey, the F.B.I. director—an action that exposed him to possible obstruction-of-justice charges—to his apparent desire, last week, to fire Andrew McCabe
.. For a man who has built a career on bluffing and intimidation, Trump is surprisingly clumsy when it comes to those tactics, and oblivious of their costs.
.. After all, why didn’t the President sign the agreement? Did he never intend to, or could he just not be bothered? With Trump, it can be hard to tell bad will from bad lawyering. He regularly demands that his subordinates operate in accordance with what he thinks the law ought to be, rather than what it is.
.. Trump’s lawyers were considering trying to block the broadcast, now scheduled for March 25th, of an interview that Anderson Cooper conducted with Clifford for “60 Minutes.” There is no legal rationale for such prior restraint. But it wouldn’t be the first time that the President has indicated that he believes he has, or should have, the power to silence the press.
.. Then again, Trump’s circle might be trying to enforce Clifford’s confidentiality agreement not for its own sake but in order to send a message to other people, who may have signed similar agreements, about the cost of breaking them. (“In my experience, bullies have one speed and one speed only,” Avenatti told The New Yorker. “They don’t just bully one person. They bully many people.”)
Mr. Moore has gone about creating a real-life political science experiment, testing whether last year’s presidential campaign was an anomaly or whether voters remain just as willing to shrug off truth-stretching, multiple charges of sexual misconduct and incendiary speech.
.. told an African-American attendee at one of his events that America was last great when families were intact during the slavery era.
.. While Mr. Jones has not said anything nearly as incendiary as Mr. Moore has, he has attempted some political jujitsu amid the campaign’s racial politics, sending out a mailer featuring an African-American that read: “Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?”
.. “I see parallels with one,” he said. “George Wallace.”
.. Wallace, the fiery segregationist governor, comes up often here these days. He was by turns an avid boxer, a circuit judge with lofty ambitions, a state leader who blatantly flouted federal authority, a symbol of defiance to the direction of the national culture, a hero to many rural and small-town whites and a politician who ran national campaigns on a promise to “send them a message” — all descriptions that perfectly fit Mr. Moore.
.. The elder Folsom elevated an Alabama tradition of tub-thumping economic populism in a state dominated for much of its history by a coterie of wealthy planters and industrialists, known as the Big Mules. While Folsom railed against the elite-owned “lyin’ newspapers,” much like Mr. Moore and right-wing populists today, he championed women and blacks along with poor whites.
Wallace followed Folsom’s lead until he discovered that a moderate line on race had become a liability in Alabama electoral politics — and then switched to become a fire-breathing segregationist.
“The major difference,” Mr. Folsom said, “is that Roy Moore, good or bad or whatever you think, has always been genuine in his positions.”
.. Moore has kept a light schedule and largely avoided interaction with the news media, a strategy that would have never occurred to Wallace, who relished the political fray and would gleefully joust with out-of-town reporters.
.. “When you look at his followers,” said John Knight, a black Alabama state representative who grew up in segregated Montgomery, “they’re the same people that were energized by Wallace.”
.. Upper-class, typically Republican neighborhoods “where the rich folks live in the suburbs up across the mountain from Birmingham,” as Wallace described the enclave of Mountain Brook during that epic 1970 race, are now crowded with white “Doug Jones for Senate” signs.
.. the often unstated perspective of Alabama’s elite as to why Mr. Moore was viable.
“The rest of the state is in a time warp,” he said. “They never progressed out of the ’50s. They don’t think. It’s sad.”
.. Moore backers are most eager to remind voters how many forces outside the state are pulling for Mr. Jones.
.. “If you can tag somebody an outsider, you’re two-thirds of the way there in Alabama.”
.. This is an age-old Southern populist tactic
.. “It goes back to the Civil War, it goes back to Reconstruction,” he said. “The big thing down here is that folks feel like the rest of the country is making fun of them.”
.. the same appeal to a fighting instinct and umbrage at being looked down upon.