At the heart of the latest twist in the Trump story is a question that you can ask a number of ways.
There is a line for Donald Trump? Is there a tipping point for the former president? Could I have sex offender be president?
So it is often said that the people of the rural counties in only a few of the American states are the ones who can turn the country around.
In the shadow of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Donald Trump has always found his loyalists and there are, of course, those who will never be moved.
Driving south along the west side of Shenandoah National Park, I passed a house barely visible behind Trump’s flags, banners, and placards. One said “Behead Biden.”
But beyond that unwavering loyalty, what about more nuanced Republican voters?
Shenandoah County has voted for a Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1932.
The entire electoral district in this part of Virginia has not supported a Democrat for president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
‘Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect’
In a break from mowing the lawn in the small town of Mount Jackson, Bobbi Rosenberger agreed to a quick chat.
Self-deprecating, she wondered aloud if her hat would make her look like a “redneck” – her word.
Conservative values here are as strong as they get. It’s a Republican heartland, and the conversations are a lesson to those who choose to ridicule or dismiss people here as inconsiderate Trumpian rednecks, as so many do.
“I’m not locked into my political designations. I go with the candidate I think is the best,” she told me.
“I’m not going to pigeonhole myself into one candidate. I want to see who decides to run. I’d probably vote for Trump. But I want to see all the other candidates before I make my final decision.”
I asked about the fact that a jury concluded that he is a sex offender. His response was eloquent. Yes, she was willing to forgive him, but that’s a judgment based as much as she despises the alternative.
“Everyone makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect.”
Read more: What other investigations is Donald Trump facing?
In our conversation, his despair over what he sees as the harmful, liberal, and wakeful direction of the country under Biden was palpably clear.
“Biden is a shameful disgrace as a leader for our country. Someone who can’t even give a speech properly, who can’t keep his train of thought. He obviously has dementia.”
Some don’t believe the sex offender story. They think the complainant, AND Jean Carroll, was just after the money. They buy Trump’s line that it’s all a witch hunt.
Others accept that his moral compass may be wrong, but they don’t care.
They feel that his “no bull” attitude represents them. He is their street fighter, he tells it like it is, he is not like other politicians. Warts and all, they’ll take it above all others.
‘Welcome to America’
On the way, on the back of his tractor, I met Bobby Jones.
“It’s sad to see Republicans and Democrats; it’s not like they used to be where they had just little differences. Now they’re like two completely different countries,” Jones said.
I asked about Trump’s latest twists and turns.
“I’m not going to say he’s a good man or a bad man,” she told me.
“All I’m saying is that by my standard of decency, at least he tried to help get rid of abortion.
“He tried to help keep the jobs. He tried to keep the jobs in the United States. He tried to take care of people. If he did something immoral, I disagree. I think it’s awful. But look what Biden is doing, have mercy here!
“In Washington and all over the northern areas we hear about how they vote for Democrats. Well how can they with everything that’s going on?” she asked.
A few fields down, another revealing conversation with factory worker Rick Lutz.
“He’s just paying the price because they’re afraid of him. They just want to crucify Trump. Like I said, they’re all dirty. But I like Trump better!” Mr. Lutz said to me, adding with a laugh, “Welcome to America.”
You might think the most damning part of this latest twist in the Trump story was his own response, in recorded evidence played back at E Jean Carroll’s trial, where he was asked about comments he made in 2005 on the infamous Access tapes Hollywood.
“Is it true that with stars they can grab women by the pussy?” he was asked by E’s attorney Jean Carroll.
Trump responded, “Well, if you look at the last few million years, I guess that’s been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”
So often it seems that America has reached a point where the grounding and polarization and distrust of the other are so profound that nothing changes opinions. It’s a place where there’s now an immunity to the unacceptable.