Ok, that was fast. So now, thanks to Donald Trump Jr. himself, we have proof of at least the intent to “collude” with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
In a rational world where logic still mattered, just the fact that he blatantly lied about this numerous times, and that several other top/close Trump associates have as well, would effectively end the debate about this topic being “Fake News,” even among Trump’s most ardent fans. It would also immediately put the focus, even among GOP lawmakers, on who will be fired and whether President Trump can/should survive this remarkable scandal.
None of that is likely to happen, however, at least not anytime soon. That’s because Trump’s “Cult 45” has already been inoculated against these revelations as being “Fake News” EVEN when they come directly from Trump’s son! Even more disturbing than that, it now appears — based on the reaction I have seen on Twitter and Facebook — that the goalposts have, very predictably, been dramatically moved to eliminate any serious problems for Trump here.
You see, to Trumpsters, the “collusion” story provides many different flavors of rationalization…
-It didn’t happen
-If it did happen, it’s not “illegal”
-If it is illegal, Hillary did it too (and worse!)
-It doesn’t matter if it is illegal/wrong because it helped keep Hillary from winning (though many of them, including Sean Hannity, strangely appear to think that she currently holds some sort of very high public office)
It seems that the Trump strategy is now to take advantage of their cult’s gullibility, and their state-run media’s willingness to cover for them, by simultaneously claiming that there was no collusion and that collusion, even with Russia, is no big deal anyway. Ironically, this is remarkably similar to Trump’s old buddy Bill Clinton’s successful strategy to beat impeachment back in in 1999, and I can see it being just as effective this time around.
There are however several important points/questions which seem to be getting lost in this firestorm which I think need to at least be articulated. I don’t expect any substantive answers from Trump supporters (last night I offered $100 on Twitter to the first person who could write a full and coherent narrative that benignly explains everything with which we already know about Russia and, despite over 100 retweets, I didn’t come close to finding a winner), but I figured I should at least try.
Here they are:
-If Donald Trump Jr. did nothing wrong/illegal, why did he lie about it so blatantly and so many times?
-Given the number of times that we have been lied to by Team Trump about this story, why should we not assume that everything we have been told is a lie, including the controversial “pee tape” dossier, is actually very true?
-How could President Trump really think this story was “Fake News” when he had to know something about the meeting with his son, son-in-law, and campaign manager? Does anyone really believe that “Russia wants to help us win!” didn’t make it into a conversation with Dad within minutes of hearing the news?!
-Similarly, how could President Trump possibly take Vladimir Putin at his word that meddling didn’t happen when, even if he inexplicably doesn’t believe U.S. intelligence, he had to know for over a year that they had every intent to do exactly that?
-Who are the multiple people in the White House who are leaking incriminating information about Donald Trump Jr. to the New York Times and how do they have access to his emails? Does this not strongly indicate that something very serious went on here, for otherwise there would be no need for Trump’s own people to throw his son under the bus?
-Why did the Russian government feel so strongly about wanting to help elect Donald Trump that they were willing to take such enormous risks in this effort (remember, Hillary was favored to win and if she did and this was proven there would have been heavy penalties for them to pay)?
-Why is it that Trump has acted in a way 100% consistent with Russia effectively owning him ever since this effort began?
These last two questions are by far the most important and least discussed, especially in “conservative” circles. In the end, they are far more significant than the “collusion” issue itself.
I care whether a presidential campaign actively worked with a foreign enemy to destroy their opponent, especially if those acts were illegal. But I care far more, as should all Americans (especially those formerly known as conservatives before the GOP coup) about whether our current president—Not Hillary!—is essentially compromised or completely blackmailed by that foreign enemy.
I still don’t know if this “Manchurian Candidate” scenario is indeed real, but the evidence that it might be is growing by the day. Finding out the answer to this bizarre mystery should be of the utmost importance to anyone who considers themselves a true patriot, and not just someone who wears a red “Make America Great Again” hat because it makes them feel better about themselves and their miserable lives.
We are better than this. At least we used to be.
John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.