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Thu Oct 15, 2020, 12:07 PM

As one of Trump's conspiracy theories bites the dust, he moves on to new pseudo-scandals

Tweet text: John Sipher
“If Trump, Cornyn, Cruz, Paul, Nunes, Grenell and all the others who shamelessly flogged this faux scandal had a modicum of honesty or decency they would publicly recant and apologize to all of the Obama officials they reviled with no evidence.” Good one.

Opinion | As one of Trump’s conspiracy theories bites the dust, he moves on to new pseudo-scandals
Trump and other superspreaders of faux scandals need to be held accountable.


President Trump’s conspiracy theories arrive with a bang and leave with a whimper. The latest to suffer this ignominious fate is the “unmasking” scandal: the claim that members of the Obama administration did something nefarious by unmasking Michael Flynn’s name in transcripts of his conversations with the Russian ambassador while he was advising the Trump campaign.

This conspiracy theory was itself the bastard child of another Trumpian fantasy: his claim that President Barack “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower.” Trump tweeted that on March 4, 2017, to distract attention from the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had just recused himself from the Justice Department investigation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump must have known that this investigation would uncover unsavory and even illegal conduct — as in fact it did — and he decided to counterpunch by inventing wrongdoing on the part of his foes.

The only problem was that there was absolutely no evidence of any wiretapping of Trump Tower — a fact confirmed in December 2019 by the Justice Department inspector general after an extensive investigation. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), then-chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, came to Trump’s rescue on March 22, 2017, by holding a news conference to announce that the real scandal was the unmasking of members of the “Trump transition team” in surveillance transcripts.

That was all the right-wing outrage machine needed to get into gear. Trump himself posted the first of 19 tweets about unmasking (including retweets) on April 1, 2017, touting it as “big news.” The pseudo-scandal reached another level on May 7, 2020. On that day, Richard Grenell — the Trump propagandist temporarily installed as acting director of national intelligence — was filmed by a conveniently pre-positioned Fox “News” camera marching into the Justice Department with a list of all the Obama officials who had asked to unmask the Flynn transcripts.


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