The Truth Shall Set You Free
Yesterday morning, Trump posted perhaps one of his most Trumpian tweets yet, since it encompassed so much that is malevolent about his persona and time in office. He wrote --
I read this and, almost more than so many of his other pronouncements -- perhaps because of the accumulation of all the others, perhaps because of recent news stories (like standing next to Putin and taking Russia's side over U.S. intelligence services and also, this week, threatening to take away the security clearances of the former intelligence chiefs), or perhaps just on general principal for what it is -- and all I could immediately think was to write him back and suggest, "How about for once in your life think about others -- others, as in EVERYONE on ALL sides in the country you've *sworn an oath* to preserve and protect -- and just take a break and shut up until you have something presidential to say."
What I also realize is that, at long last, I've figured out the two "proofs" of why Trump statements like this -- and all his others about how he supposedly accepts that Russia meddled in the U.S. elections and that he's actually really tough on Russia -- are treasonous lies.
1) Trump has long prided himself in being the kind of bully who hits back TEN TIMES HARDER whenever he is attacked. So, if Russia actually hates Trump, as he so often insists, and we can even stretch reality and accept it when he says that he's been tough on Russia, more than anyone in the world has ever been, we've not yet once seen where he's hit them back a mere twice as hard, let alone the Trumpian TEN TIMES HARDER.
But mostly --
2) Trump gives silly nicknames to his enemies. So...Where Is His Nickname for Putin?! That Trump hasn't ever come up with one of his childish nicknames for the Russian leader screams loudly that he doesn't see Putin as a threat to himself, despite all U.S. intelligence services, the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and 12 indictments from the U.S. Justice department to the contrary saying that Russia did attack the U.S. during the elections, and it was directed by Putin. But no nickname. He gave "Rocket Man" to Kim Jong Un, after all -- well, until he got snookered and became Best Buddies and was sent a big letter. But no "Puny Putin" or "Vlad the Immeddler." Just "He's a nice guy!"
But far worse than this, his tweet yesterday morning was part of pie with two other pieces.
Yesterday afternoon, only a few hours later at a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump said -- among other head-shaking things -- “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”
Much as one would like to believe that to mean Hillary Clinton actually won the election, it's doesn't and instead is entering the land of George Orwell, where the totalitarian government tries to control the perception of reality through "Newspeak," which the 1984 author describes as a way for the government "to diminish the range of thought."
And this -- in fact, all this yesterday, the tweet and speech -- ties into the infamous July 16 Helsinki press conference just a week earlier with Putin and Trump, who took the side of Russia over U.S. intelligence.
At one point there was an exchange between a reporter and Putin that got attention at the time, though less than some of the more glaring and treasonous comments from Trump. That was when reporter Jeff Mason of Reuters asked the Russian dictator --
MASON: "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"
PUTIN: "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the US/Russia relationship back to normal."
Bear with me a moment, because there a very big point to this all. And just to be clear, accurate and the word of the day, "transparent." here's footage from the press conference itself where that exchange takes place. (You hear to Russian translator first, as Jeff Mason's quieter question underneath overlaps briefly with it.)
And by the way, I specifically chose this clip since it comes from RT, the Russian state television network, in case anyone wants to think it was edited by the "fake media" in the U.S. But coming from Russian state TV, this is clearly what Russia wants to the world to hear. And to read, as well, since the text headline on the video is theirs. Which, in this case, is in fact what actually occurred, because this exchange is on all other video feeds from the news media throughout the world.
That from Putin, on its own, is a pretty remarkable and damning statement. Even if you accept that Putin isn't answering the second question, but just the first, that first question alone lays waste to Trump claims for the past year. Vladimir Putin says clearly, on the video record, yes, he wanted Donald Trump to win the election. For the world to see. It was live, on television. And remains on video. And not only does it lay waste to Trump claims for the past year -- it makes gallingly pathetic Trump's pathetic insistence in his tweet yesterday morning that Russia is "pushing very hard for Democrats," that Russians "definitely don't want Trump!", something he wrote mere days after Putin said to Trump's face and to the world, yes, he wanted Trump.
Now keep in mind, three things, as we build to the point.
First, we all saw and heard what Putin actually said, and we're not all idiots.
Second, just hours after tweeting this, Trump told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, "Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”
And now third -- and as egregious as the first two comments above are, they don't compare to this third: in the official White House transcript of the Helsinki press conference (okay, are you ready? Sit down first), the administration LEFT OUT THE FIRST QUESTION by Jeff Mason! They edited out Jeff Mason of Reuters asking, "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election?" So, Putin's answer seemingly relates to something else entirely that's not only totally benign but makes no sense. But it's even worse! (Yes, really. Worse) Because in case anyone wants to think or desperately try to suggest this was just a "clerical error" -- in the official video of the press conference released by the White House...they went to the effort of editing out the same first question by Jeff Mason of Reuters, as well!!
Really. Here's the official White House copy of the live stream. Jump to 2:18:20. And listen to the end of Putin's preceding answer, and then see the cut to Jeff Mason -- without his first question. You know, that first question that YOU SAW in reality above.
And so, it is clear what Trump and his administration are trying to do -- change our perception of reality. Edit out all evidence of Putin saying he wanted Trump to win. Trump telling the world not to believe what you see and what you read, because they are not happening. Trump claiming that Putin supposedly said, not the reality that it was Trump (which is what he actually said), but that it was instead "the Democrats" who he wants to win.
I'm not sure what words to use to describe this. Go through your thesaurus for words to describe fascist political hell. But bizarrely, Trump is trying to gaslight an entire country -- or at least gaslight his crazed base who at this point not only will believe anything from him but to appear to be begging to be lied to. Happily, videotape exists. Happily, reality exists. Happily, this editing is getting reported. Happily, people saw what was actually said. Unhappily, there will be Trumpet cultists who believe it -- and worse, who will believe the Trump-pushed false narrative for after the mid-terms that the Russians fixed things FOR the Democrats if Democrats win back the House, and even win the Senate. Because that's what Trump appears to be setting them up here to believe. But the "good news" is that Trump acolytes would have believed that anyway without all the editing and set-up, so it's a lot of wasted effort for nothing, and worse there's now video evidence of Trump's perfidy disproving it all.
Could it all possibly, maybe just been a big technical snafu?? The Washington Post's Phillip Bump makes a thoughtful case here that it was. What it leaves out though is that it's been nine days since the transcript and video were released, and they haven't yet been corrected. And it leaves out, too, that Trump -- who was standing right next to Putin and heard the Russian dictator say, "Yes," he wanted Trump to win -- sent out a tweet yesterday morning insisting that Putin supposedly wants the Democrats to win. And that Russians "definitely don't want Trump." And leaves out that yesterday afternoon Trump said not to believe what you hear or read. Without those three realities, their otherwise objective piece leaves out significant context in determining what happened. Besides, given that this same Washington Post determined here in May that Trump has made over 3,000 false or misleading claims since taking office, he long-since lost any benefit of the doubt. It's long been up to the White House to prove their statements beyond all reasonable doubt. And since it's been nine days without them correcting two records, that speaks far louder. Because even if by some possible chance there was a ghastly error, it seems to be a position they happily want the public to believe.
But mainly, as always now -- this is not about Trump. This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who are accepting this attempt to change reality, it is about the Republican Party officials who are enabling Trump telling the country not to believe what they hear and read. It is about the elected members of the Republican Party foregoing their sworn duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States in order to act as a check-and-balance on the Executive Branch.
This is about the Republican Party.
This is about a Republican Party not rising in horror condemning this. A Republican Party not standing to defend the United States.
It is a Republican Party acting as if they are complicit in it all, and like they have something to hide and are treasonous themselves.
There. Treasonous. That's a good word to describe it.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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