You have to give Donald Trump credit for blind persistence. No matter how ludicrous his behavior, or how damaging to what’s left of his tattered reputation, he continues to remind everyone of just how ignorant and criminally culpable he is, even when he’s trying to chastise his enemies.
On Thursday morning Trump released another one line statement via his spokes-shill, Liz Harrington (whose proxy Trump tweeting is violating Twitter’s rules against circumventing a ban). On this occasion he was jumping on a wingnut bandwagon circling the conservative media drain. He said simply that…
“Biden pressed Afghan president to change ‘perception’ that Taliban was winning, ‘whether true or not’
What Trump was regurgitating was flotsam from the right-wing echo chamber about a phone call President Biden had with President Ghani of Afghanistan. Biden was conveying the importance of projecting strength in the battle against the Taliban prior to its take over of the nation. He wanted to encourage Ghani to carry on the fight, which showed the promise of success at the time. The full context of Biden’s remarks bear that out:
“You clearly have the best military. You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well. […] We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows.” […]
“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban. And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
That was an entirely appropriate effort to motivate the Afghans to recommit to victory against their foes. But Republicans and their conservative media lackeys saw it differently. Fox News lashed out at Press Secretary Jen Psaki for declining to respond to reports about the Biden/Ghani phone call because it was unlawfully leaked to the press by an anonymous source. She told reporters that “I’m not going to get into private, diplomatic conversations or leaked transcripts of phone calls.”
Psaki’s response was immediately taken up by partisan politicians and pundits including Fox News, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Kellyanne Conway, and GOP reps Elise Stefanik, Jody Hice, and Lauren Boebert. They all frantically tried to compare Biden’s phone call to the infamous one that Trump had with President Zelensky of Ukraine. That was the allegedly “perfect” phone call (quid pro quo) wherein Trump illegally threatened to withhold U.S. funds unless Zelensky agreed to dig up dirt on Biden.
The right-wingers pointed to a two year old tweet by Psaki that said “It is not just the call transcript. The whistleblower complaint would likely have more details. We need both. And not just the call.” They said that this request for a transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky was a contradiction of her refusal to give more details about Biden’s phone call with Ghani.
There are, however, enormous and obvious differences. First of all, the information Psaki sought about Trump’s call was contained in a properly executed whistleblower complaint that went through all the appropriate channels. But the information in Biden’s phone call was illegally leaked and the sources were unknown and unvetted.
Furthermore, what Psaki was asking for was evidence of criminal activity to be considered in the impeachment of Trump. But there was nothing remotely illegal, or even improper, about Biden’s phone call. So this dust up over dueling phone calls is just a charade by Trump and his minions designed to sow confusion and lies.
For Trump to participate in this utterly dishonest media hype of a pseudo-scandal is further proof of his disreputable and deceitful intentions. But even worse, from his perspective, he is reminding people of his own crimes that got him impeached in the first place. It really does appear that Trump is committed to making a fool of himself. And at least in that pursuit, he is surprisingly adept.
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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.