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Leonard Pitts Jr.: Trump 'fell under malignant influence'?

Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

“Donald was enabled from the beginning . . .” -- Mary L. Trump, "Too Much and Never Enough"

Liz Cheney sure called that one.

Tuesday afternoon, in her opening statement at the latest hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Wyoming congresswoman advised America of a change in strategy by Donald Trump’s would-be defenders.

Having once embraced an ineffectual policy of “deny and delay” she said, they were taking a new tack: “Now the argument seems to be that President Trump was manipulated by others outside the administration, that he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisers and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong.”

She said this at 1:07 EDT. Sure enough, less than an hour and a half later, here came Geraldo Rivera, one of Trump’s ardent protectors, illustrating her point to a fare-thee-well. He tweeted: “Before he fell under malignant influence of a trio of fringe advisers President Trump told me on November 13, 2020 he was ‘a realist’ and would ‘do the right thing.’ I assumed he meant he would concede if there was clear proof he lost. Instead, he led us to Constitutional crisis.”

“Fell … under … malignant … influence.” You might want to let that one soak for a minute.

 

It is the kind of thing you say when your teenager is caught smoking behind the bleachers. “He’s been running with a bad crowd,” you might tell your spouse. “He fell under malignant influence.” The obvious problem with that: Donald Trump is closer to 80 than to 18. Or as Cheney herself put it, “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child.”

More to the point, he was caught, not smoking behind the bleachers, but trying to overthrow the U.S. government. And, not for nothing, but he was president of the United States at the time. Yet here comes Rivera, the same guy who once blamed Trayvon Martin for his own death because he wore a hoodie — in the rain! — trotting out this lame excuse in order to deflect from Trump blame he obviously and richly deserves.

“Fell under malignant influence.”

Just curious: How many friends do you have, gentle reader — much less mere “advisers” — who could influence you to plot a coup against the U.S. government? How weak-minded would you have to be? The fact that such shabby and absurd reasoning passes as strategy within the walls of Trump World suggests not just how desperate things are in there, but how detached from reality the people inside have become.

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