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The secret recording is still the best weapon against liars and villains like Donald Trump

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Trump apologizes in Facebook and Twitter video
Trump apologizes in Facebook and Twitter video

Donald Trump’s pathetic rise to power may finally end because of something he said on the set of a soap opera. It started Friday night, when The Washington Post published a disgusting recording of Trump with the euphemistic headline “Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005.” The headline should have read “Trump recorded describing his techniques for sexual assault,” but it didn’t matter — his words could not be camouflaged.

In a matter of hours, GOP officials who supported Trump through his ethno-nationalist ascendancy finally decided they’d had enough. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R, WI) uninvited Trump from their first campaign event together, saying “I am sickened by what I heard today.” In a Facebook Live video, Senator Mike Lee (R, UT) asked Trump to withdraw from the race.

Only now has Trump been cowed by his own filthy record

Only now, as he was caught describing methods of sexual assault on tape, Trump has been cowed by his own filthy record. “I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of them. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize,” Trump said with a deflated demeanor in a video released on Facebook and Twitter accompanied only by the words “Here is my statement.”

Trump, of course, has shown us who he really is nearly every time he has opened his mouth during this election, revealing his nature as an irredeemable liar and coward who refuses to apologize for any of his actions without qualification. The only thing different this time around is that he got caught at his worst on camera.

Trump’s alleged history of sexual misconduct, harassment, and rape has been on the record for years — but like so many other cases, it has relied on statements from the women he allegedly abused, which have long been carelessly dismissed by people who prefer to look the other way. Many of those people are senior officials in Trump’s own party. When The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who worked with Donald Trump earlier this year, many who accused him of making unwanted advances like those he described in the newly-released tape, his enablers in the Republican party continued to stand by him.

And it’s not like Trump hasn’t been seen on camera before saying all kinds of nasty things about women, Mexicans, you name it — publicly available video of Trump’s own words have formed the bulk of Hillary Clinton’s attacks on him. (During the first presidential debate, Trump said these ads, which feature his own remarks, were “very nasty commercials.”) There’s something about the secret recording that’s simply more powerful — it’s a look behind a curtain at someone’s real thoughts and deeds that can’t be easily dismissed.

Against all odds, a secret recording may finally bring down Donald Trump. Secret recordings have immense power. They’ve exposed the lies of police officers who have violated civil rights. They’ve sacked mayors, governors, and presidents. They’ve even damaged people with records that are spotless in comparison to Trump: Mitt Romney, Lance Armstrong, and even Taylor Swift, to name a few.

The undoing of a reality show candidate by a secret recording with the host of Access Hollywood is so felicitous that it seems to defy reality. But there’s no questioning the reality of a man who’s speaking as if nobody else can hear him. Unlike Donald Trump, the tape can’t lie.