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"Every day before 6 a.m. Bob Mueller comes into the garage, slips in, and witnesses come in through the garage. They’re bringing in every single White House official they can. This is a sprawling, active investigation.”

The garage being referenced, by an observer speaking in a very trenchant account airing Tuesday, is the parking garage beneath the building that houses special counsel Robert Mueller and his team. It’s an interesting snapshot, that observation. The viewer sees a car – it could be any car – entering an underground garage. But it sure works as an illustration, the words and the footage.

Here’s the thing: If you’re obsessed to any degree with Donald Trump’s troubles and his twists and turns in his battles, you’re probably tired already. Daily, following the coverage feels like lurching through an existential void. You ask, “Where is truth?” And, eventually, "What is truth?”

Embrace the hurly-burly of all-news coverage and at times you might agree with some in the Trump administration that the mainstream media amounts to an army of agenda-fuelled lackeys. Where, oh where, is the coherence?

Open this photo in gallery:

President Donald Trump waits for the arrival of Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at the White House, Sept. 28, 2018, in Washington.Evan Vucci/The Associated Press

Frontline: Trump’s Showdown (Tuesday, PBS, 10 p.m.) is your life jacket. A two-hour special report, it brings coherence to an incoherent narrative. It steps away from the panels of pundits on CNN or Fox News who simply want to pummel other opinions. It does, mind you, have some familiar faces from those panels. But, it being PBS, this is a lengthy commercial-free analysis. Its agenda is to straighten out the tangled tale and prep viewers for what will probably happen next. That is, the showdown.

Much of what the program presents as a thematic narrative thread is captured early on, in the assertion that Trump has been waging a war on the very idea that there is such a thing as independent justice. His tactic is to sow discord and negate any and all accusations against him by claiming everyone scrutinizing him is tainted by bias.

The starting point is that infamous meeting of Jan. 6, 2017, when president-elect Trump was informed by senior government officials that his election may have been compromised by Russian interference. Then-FBI director James Comey was left alone with him to outline what was in the Steele Dossier, the titillating document that suggested Russia had embarrassing information about him.

The meeting has long been a topic of toxic argument. In his recent book Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Woodward says Comey should never have briefed Trump on the dossier. It should have been given to one of his lawyers and left at that. In Frontline it’s suggested that Comey saw it as his solemn duty to warn Trump personally. Trump, on the other hand, saw it as “a shakedown.” Then, certain parties emerge to label Comey as a self-righteous prig.

From there the program goes back to Trump’s personal business story and highlights the enormous influence of lawyer Roy Cohn. The fiercely antagonistic, vituperative lawyer is described as Trump’s "ersatz father.” He taught Trump to always fight back, to countersue, to attack accusers even if the accusations came from government or law enforcement and to claim setbacks as a victory.

In chronicling the period from January of last year to now, the program suggests, Trump became increasingly reliant on Cohn-type tactics and has decided that this is the only way to battle the Mueller investigation. It is now his single instrument for fighting back – accuse everyone of bias even if that means undermining the authority of those agencies tasked with acting as a check on presidential power. As several current and former officials say, what appears to be chaos or the intention of creating chaos is no such thing. It is Trump’s preferred stance and his comfort zone.

While few talk openly about a looming constitutional crisis, that idea is advanced. "One thing we know about this president, he doesn’t care about collateral damage. And he doesn’t care about collateral damage on associates. And he doesn’t care about collateral damage on American institutions. And so the stakes could not be higher,” says Jack Goldsmith, assistant attorney-general during the George W. Bush administration.

What we get in this admirable Frontline is a coherent framing of what has happened and a suggestion that what looms in the near future is a degrading of U.S. democracy through even more intense incoherence. It’s bracing to see that vista being forecast.

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