Donald Trump was plenty terrible in public. The ex-president was a grifter and a troll, a race-baiter who shrugged off his responsibilities during the worst national emergency in a generation and incited a riot on his way out the door — and he did all these things out in the open.
In the years and decades to come, though, we're likely to find out his presidency was even worse than we thought.
Proof of that comes from a new New York Times report, which details how Trump's Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for the communications data of at least two Democratic congressmen — Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California — as well as aides and family members of people connected with the House Intelligence Committee. Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr both oversaw the efforts, part of an investigation into leaks of classified information.
"In combination with former President Trump's unmistakable vendetta against Congressman Schiff, it raises serious questions about whether the manner in which this investigation was conducted was influenced by political considerations rather than purely legal ones," said one official who worked on the investigations.
We're going to hear more stories like these. After President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal, startling new stories emerged for years afterward — in 1999, for example, hundreds of hours of tapes detailing Nixon's routine-but-virulent anti-Semitism were made public. In 2002, more tapes detailed how he had proposed using nuclear weapons during the Vietnam War. Trump almost certainly has similar skeletons rattling around in his presidential closet. (Heck, some of the same characters are prominent in both men's stories.)
There is one difference. Watergate ended Richard Nixon's time as a political force. Trump, meanwhile, is still a player — and heads a political party that has chosen to bend itself to his will. Which means forthcoming revelations about the terrible things that the ex-president and his allies got up to won't just be astonishing tales from recent history: They'll be a warning sign of what Americans can expect if the Republican Party continues on its present course.