An investigation of Donald Trump’s unlikely ascent offers uncomfortable echoes of our political situation

Like trauma victims replaying the calamity that befell them while they wonder how much they are to blame, Americans have spent almost three years asking themselves the anguished question that Tim Alberta poses in the stark first sentence of his book: “How did Donald Trump become president of the United States?”

Answering this “riddle”, as Alberta calls it, is like rationalising the fall of man or coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis. Along with WikiLeaks and the KGB, higher powers seem to have been in play. Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders recently suggested that Trump was God’s personal choice to occupy the Oval Office. Or is he the result of a diabolical jest? Paul Ryan, who decided when he was speaker of the House to collaborate with Trump and educate him about government, entered into what his friends called “a deal with the devil” and came out singed, shredded and eternally shamed.

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