Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Think back to the wild conspiracy theories that once floated through your head, or the minds of friends and critics of President Trump: collusion with Russia ... Hidden hush money ... Shady business dealings that only insiders like fixer Michael Cohen knew of — and they'd never tell.

The big picture: Trump has done almost nothing to dispel these theories since taking office.

Now, think about July, 2018: With millions wondering if Vladimir Putin has damaging info about Trump, and suspecting they have a secret pact, the president does something almost unheard of in history: He meets alone with Putin for two hours. Then, with everyone looking for a public signal of Putin's power over Trump, the president shows so much deference at their press conference you would think he was meeting with the Pope. 

  • Then the tape of Trump talking about pre-election payments to a Playboy model surfaces (on CNN, to boot!). The tape + Trump’s admission that he paid off porn star Stormy Daniels = confirmation of what so many thought pre-election happened just as suspected. There was after all a pre-election scramble to silence women — and now it’s on full display for all to see. 
  • Then Cohen, the Trump boot-licker who had claimed he'd take a bullet for the president, indeed takes a bullet — and aims at his sugar daddy, leaking word he wants Robert Mueller to know he will testify that Trump knew of the infamous Russian meeting to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton. (Trump denies that.) If true — and given Cohen’s jam and reputation, it remains an if — this is the kind of smoking gun that lives in infamy. 

Be smart: Who the hell knows how this wild saga ends? But it’s striking how much of it was foreseeable — and foreseen.

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