When the definitive history of the Trump presidency comes to be written, a major theme is sure to be the role that stupidity played in the 45th president’s eventual downfall. That’s not just the stupidity of one man – though an orange-tinged ego will figure prominently – but the institutionalised stupidity of a system of government that enabled an administration to defy every rule and shirk every convention. 

Take, for example, the major development of the past few days. It would normally be the unbelievable plot twist of a spy thriller. It’s the stuff of “Three Day of the Condor”, Sydney Pollack’s wonderful but implausible 1975 political thriller, in which Robert Redford played an analyst in a small CIA office who witnesses his colleagues murdered in a hit. He then rings the CIA to report the incident, only for the message to go straight to the person who organized the hit. Such things just wouldn’t happen.