Last Monday, Trump was riding high.
National polls showed him in a virtual tie — or even leading — Hillary Clinton. State polls were trending in his direction, showing leads in crucial states like Florida, Ohio and Nevada.
It had been seemingly days since Trump created a major controversy. Had his new staff gotten Trump on track?
Nate Silver, the influential election prognosticator, gave Trump about a 50 percent chance of winning the White House.
There was palpable sense of joy among Trump supporters: Hey, we might actually do this!
And a palpable sense of dread among Trump opponents: Hey, they might actually do this!
What followed was one of the worst weeks in political history.
If Trump loses in November, it will be viewed as the moment the wheels finally came off his campaign. (If he wins, it will be evidence that political gravity does not apply to him.)
“Political operatives and strategists are going to study this week for generations as the textbook case of self-sabotage,” Mo Elleithee, the director of the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service, told the Washington Post.
When future generations study the last week, here’s what they’ll find.
Monday, September 26
4:45 PM: Washington Post releases report raising questions about the Trump Foundation.
It was the latest in a series of damaging revelations about Trump’s charitable vehicle.
Trump directed $2.3 million owed to him to his tax-exempt foundation insteadDonald Trump’s charitable foundation has received approximately $2.3 million from companies that owed money to Trump or…www.washingtonpost.com
9:00 PM: First presidential debate begins.
9:35 PM: Trump effectively admits paying no federal income taxes, brags about it.
Clinton alleged that Trump pays “nothing in federal taxes.” “That makes me smart,” Trump replied.
10:21 PM: Trump gets cornered after repeating lie that he opposed the Iraq War, begs media to call Sean Hannity.
10:35 PM: Trump defends calling Alicia Machado, former Miss Universe, “Miss Piggy.”
Trump’s only response was that some of the things he said were for “entertainment.”
11:44 PM: CNN poll shows viewers overwhelmingly thought Clinton won the debate.
Tuesday, September 27
12:34 AM — 2:23 AM: Trump dismisses CNN poll, promotes unscientific internet polls showing him winning the debate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2016
7:09 AM: Trump renews his attack on beauty queen Alicia Machado, says she “gained a massive amount of weight.”
11 AM: White Nationalist leader David Duke defends Trump’s debate performance, calls him “our candidate.”
9:07 PM: The Arizona Republic, which has never endorsed a Democrat since it began publishing in 1890, endorses Hillary Clinton.
The paper describes Trump as “not conservative and not qualified.” The state is a must-win for Trump.
Wednesday, September 28
8:30 AM: Forbes reports that Trump’s net worth has fallen by $800 million in the last year.
8:07 PM: Trump continues his attacks on Machado: “It is a beauty contest. They know what they are getting into.”
Trump claimed that he saved Machado’s job because the pageant wanted to “fire her” for gaining so much weight.
9:00 PM: Trump accuses Google of suppressing “bad news” about Hillary Clinton.
Thursday, September 29
5:42 AM: Newsweek reports that Trump violated the Cuba embargo.
8:22 AM: LA Times reports that Trump tried to fire women who worked at his golf club who weren’t pretty enough.
11 AM: Trump’s campaign manager accidentally confirms that Trump did violate the Cuba embargo.
11:15 AM: Marco Rubio, Republican candidate for Senate in the key state of Florida, says he’s “deeply concerned” about reports Trump violated the Cuba embargo.
4 PM: Trump falsely accuses the FBI of giving “immunity” to Hillary Clinton.
7:34 PM: A member of the Wall Street Journal’s notoriously conservative editorial board endorses Hillary Clinton.
7:45 PM: Days after renouncing birtherism, Trump tells New Hampshire reporter he’s “very proud” of it.
9:15 PM: Trump says Angela Merkel is the foreign leader he most admires. He’s spent much of the campaign trashing Merkel and comparing her to Hillary.
Friday, September 30
12:54 AM: USA Today’s editorial board, which has never taken sides in a presidential election, declares Trump “unfit to be president.”
The editorial argues that Trump is dishonest and traffics in bigotry.
5:30 AM: Trump calls Machado “disgusting,” encourages his supporters to search for her “sex tape.”
Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
2:39 PM: Trump defends early morning tweets, says they show he’s ready to be president.
5:39 PM: BuzzFeed reports that Trump appeared in a softcore porn movie.
6:30 PM: Trump says election could be rigged, tells supporters to monitor polling places for voter fraud.
6:45 PM: Trump releases ad featuring Ivanka Trump to appeal to women. It includes the line: “The most important job a woman can have is being a mother.”
7 PM: Trump demands Obama promise not to pardon Clinton, which would be impossible since Clinton has not been charged or convicted of a crime.
8:30 PM: Washington Post releases another damaging report about the Trump Foundation.
9 PM: Trump calls New York Times, promises to get “nasty.”
Donald Trump Opens New Line of Attack on Hillary Clinton: Her Marriage“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” Mr. Trump said. “Hillary Clinton was married to the single…www.nytimes.com
Saturday, October 1
9:15 PM: The New York Times reveals Trump’s 1995 tax return, which shows $915 million loss.
Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two DecadesA flaw in the tax software program he used at the time prevented him from being able to print a nine-figure loss on Mr…www.nytimes.com
9:45 PM: Trump mocks Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia, pantomimes her stumbling into her car.
10:15 PM: Trump says Hillary Clinton “could actually be crazy.”
10:30 PM: Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of cheating on her husband.
Sunday, October 2
9:06 AM: Trump adviser Chris Christie says the report of him not paying taxes is “a very good story” for Trump.
9:08 AM: Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani calls Trump a “genius” for not paying taxes.
He also falsely claims that Trump had a “fiduciary duty” to investors to reduce his taxes. These were his personal tax returns.
8 PM: LeBron James, a hero in the key state of Ohio, endorses Hillary Clinton.