The frequent exhibitions of narcissism and paranoia by Donald Trump have become a such a common occurrence that they are at risk of becoming passe. His frantic outbursts are getting more intense and irrational everyday, as witnessed by a bizarre Obama Derangement fit on Tuesday. But the risk that others in his sphere of influence are being infected by the same disease is all too real and dangerous.
On Wednesday morning Trump’s newly confirmed plant in the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, testified in the Senate about his mischaracterizations of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller. And if there were any doubt that Barr would serve as Trump’s obedient lackey and shield from legal jeopardy, that was eliminated entirely by his profoundly smarmy puppet act.
There were numerous occasions when Barr simply refused to respond to questions for no other reason than that he didn’t feel like it. That included questions concerning his own conclusions about the Mueller report that he conveyed in his enfeebled four page “summary” to Congress of the 300+ page report. But perhaps the most troubling part of Barr’s obsequious testimony was when he brazenly adopted Trump’s own delusional rhetoric regarding the Mueller probe that he has repeatedly maligned as a “witch hunt.” Barr was asked about whether he would be reviewing allegations that Mueller and the FBI improperly “spied” on Trump:
“I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016. I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. […] I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated. I’m not suggesting it was not adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”
Barr is taking up the mantle of Trump, and his thoroughly dishonest defenders on Fox News, who have been ranting for months that Mueller and others in law enforcement were corrupt and even treasonous. They’ve been smearing Mueller for doing his job, which was to examine the abundant evidence of foreign interference in the 2016 presidential intended to benefit Trump and harm Hillary Clinton. And there is nothing ambiguous about Barr’s partisan intentions. He is literally using the same charged language that Trump himself uses to vilify his critics. Trump has been fuming non-stop about his perceived enemies “spying” on him. He has posted thirty-six tweets making that utterly false assertion. For example, here’s one from more than a year ago that incorporates the full range of conspiracies in his twisted imagination:
Disproven and paid for by Democrats “Dossier used to spy on Trump Campaign. Did FBI use Intel tool to influence the Election?” @foxandfriends Did Dems or Clinton also pay Russians? Where are hidden and smashed DNC servers? Where are Crooked Hillary Emails? What a mess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2018
Barr was given an opportunity to review his words by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who warned that “the word ‘spying’ could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out.” Barr responded by by saying that “I want to make sure there was no unauthorized surveillance.” Of course, there was zero evidence that any surveillance was unauthorized, and Barr conceded that fact. What’s more, the investigations could not be remotely portrayed as spying. They were counterintelligence operations aimed at Russia’s activities. The FBI couldn’t help it if people associated with Trump kept showing up.
Sen.Schatz, however, was right on point with respect to the reaction in the cable news universe. It began almost immediately with Fox News launching furious attacks on the law enforcement community based on Barr’s weasley testimony. Although the full frontal assault won’t come until primetime when Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson will bellow out their prepared diatribes. But Trump wasn’t waiting for them. He already pounced with this batty outburst:
“This was an illegal witch hunt, and everybody knew it. And they knew it too. And they got caught. And what they did was treason. What they did was terrible. What they did was against our Constitution and everything we stand for.”
Trump: Russia investigators guilty of "treason". pic.twitter.com/sFEAzUQalB
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) April 10, 2019
So Trump is already getting his money’s worth from Barr. The Attorney General’s parroting of Trump’s paranoid lingo could only have been a deliberate attempt to advance the propaganda that the White House was hoping for when they put Barr in charge of the Justice Department. And there will surely be more lies to come when Barr’s heavily redacted version of the Mueller report is released in the next week or so. Count on any incriminating findings to be left on the cutting room floor.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The only way the American people will find out what really happened is when Democrats in Congress are successful in subpoenaing the full report, which they are already preparing to do. Then the real fun begins, and Trump-fluffers like Barr won’t be able to do anything about it. That’s when we’ll see the real freak outs by Fox News as they try to spin Trump’s crimes into victories for MAGA.