The top priority of State TV (aka Fox News) for the past year – and the one unfolding – is to make sure that Donald Trump is safely sheltered from any and all criticism and the devastating effects of unsanitized truth. The more that the American people learn about what Trump is doing, and has done, the more political peril he and his accomplices are in.
Fox News has, so far, been diligent in carrying out their mission to protect the President. They are his rapid response team when negative news is reported, and that’s almost all of it. They are the attack squad to neutralize critics and truth tellers. And they are even the “brain” trust that incubates Trump’s agenda and public pronouncements.
In the service of that calling, Fox News is now test marketing a new tactic aimed at undermining the rule of law and denigrating the people charged with enforcing it. It is a strategy familiar to totalitarian dictators who strive to hoard control over every institution of an otherwise free society. It surfaced recently when Fox’s Jeanine Pirro asked an eagerly agreeable guest whether special counsel Robert Mueller is “a greater threat than [Vladimir] Putin to this country.”
It’s an odd question for the obvious reasons. Putin is a ruthless dictator who has invaded neighboring countries, murdered his political adversaries, and waged a cyber war against the United States. While on the other hand, Mueller is a war hero, a lifelong public servant, and a man who has earned unqualified respect from across the political spectrum (at least until he took his current job). But the question is also a curious one coming from people who have lately been praising Putin as a strong leader who, according to Trump, would be a dandy friend to the U.S. and no threat whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the allegation has been making the rounds at Fox News. The latest eruption of this slander came from Fox News host Mark Levin during an interview on Sean Hannity’s program. And he wasn’t shy about making a pointedly defamatory charge with no basis to support it:
“Robert Mueller is a greater threat to this republic and the Constitution than anything Vladimir Putin did during the campaign. And I’m no fan of Vladimir Putin. He’s threatening to take down a President of the United States.”
So Levin’s theory is that Mueller is worse than Putin because he’s trying to remove a president that Putin installed. But he wasn’t through. As he continued he enumerated the reasons he thought Mueller’s investigation was improper. But he actually supplied a pretty good opening to explain all the reasons that mueller’s probe is proper and necessary. He launches into it saying “Now let’s walk through this quickly:”
“The President is not a witness to any crime. How do we know that? Because we don’t know what crime they’re even talking about. So he doesn’t need to be questioned as a witness.”
In fact, the President is both a witness and a participant in several potential crimes including conspiracy with a foreign government to interfere with an election, campaign finance law violations, and obstruction of justice. Just because Levin can’t identify Trump’s criminal exposure, doesn’t mean there isn’t any. And the need to question him about is apparent to any first-year law student.
“The President did not commit a crime. What crime did he commit? So he’s not a target, he doesn’t need to be questioned about that.”
Once again, the assertion that Trump did not commit a crime comes from Levin’s imagination. Currently Trump is considered to be a “subject” of the investigation, and that status can be changed to “target” at any time. So he does need to be questioned about that.
“According to the Department of Justice, a president can’t be indicted. A president cannot be questioned by a subordinate, like Mr. Mueller, about his prerogatives as president, that is, about the firing of a subordinate like Mr. Comey. So what questions, exactly, does Mr. Mueller have?”
Actually, the Justice Department’s guidance as to whether a president can be indicted is an administrative rule, not a law. It can be changed with the stroke of a pen. And there is no prohibition of a special counsel questioning a president. Levin is just making that one up. While Comey, as FBI Directer, can be terminated by the President, if it is proven to have been done in order to obstruct justice it is actionable as a crime.
These points by Levin all seem to be aimed at making excuses for why Trump should decline to be interviewed by Mueller. Of course the more salient reasons would be because he can’t help himself from lying (which even his own attorneys and some members of his administration have insinuated), and he is at heart a coward. Levin goes on to rant incoherently about Trump being a “white hat” hero and Mueller being an evil usurper of some undefined and unauthorized power. And Hannity agrees, describing the legally mandated operations of the Justice Department (which is being run by Trump appointees) as akin to the former Soviet Union.
It’s a rather peculiar spectacle to watch Fox News and the Republican leadership rail on Mueller, a man most of them praised as the perfect choice for special counsel when it was announced. But it’s nauseating to see a man with real integrity, principle, and courage, being trashed as a traitor to the country he served faithfully for his entire adult life. Especially when held up in comparison to the greedy, racist, sexual predator who is currently exploiting his occupancy of the White House to sell out the nation to its enemies. For the record, this is who Levin, Hannity, Fox News, and the GOP are castigating as a corrupt defiler of democracy:
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.