From 'fake news' to witch hunt
WASHINGTON -- Conspiracies. Secret societies. Witch hunts.
During the past year, we've heard reference to all of the above to explain away any suggestion of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
Allegedly, there's a secret society within the Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at deposing Trump. This bit of conspiracy theorizing is thanks to some 50,000 text exchanges between two FBI officials involved in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation -- Peter Strzok and Lisa Page -- who were deeply critical of Trump during the campaign, even mentioning a now-debunked hush-hush society. At least one text also suggested that the two were dedicated to preventing Trump's election.
It is little wonder that Trump and many of his fellow Republicans concluded that the investigation is corrupt. But then, the two were equally aghast at the prospect of Bernie Sanders' election. That they mocked the selection of a "Duck Dynasty" star to speak at the Republican National Convention is hardly conclusive evidence of malice. That they are fools seems incontestable, but whether this is enough to condemn the whole agency or to impugn the investigation is definitively not.
There are lots of other dots in this constellation of rumor and innuendo, as well as documented facts and events that can be easily corroborated. Objectively, it is neither conjecture nor conspiracy to observe that the president strikes a defensive pose every time a well-sourced story reveals something that could seem incriminating. Indeed, he has become Clintonesque, reflexively dodging and covering up, whether he needs to or not.
"Fake news," has become the car alarm of Trump's administration -- meaningless and loud. Thus, the question is whether Trump is hiding something, an obvious inference, or whether his objectively observable narcissistic personality means he can't tolerate even a suggestion that he may be at fault. The narcissist's first instinct is always to blame others. Combined with his excessive need for admiration, another narcissistic trait, it is conceivable that Trump punches back as a function of a personality disorder.
Whatever the verdict, either possibility inspires shivers.
Following are the facts thus far:
First, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last May -- after, according to Comey, Trump had asked him for loyalty and to drop the probe into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, whose three-week tenure ended upon revelations that he had lied about conversations with Russia's U.S. ambassador. Flynn subsequently pleaded guilty to lying in exchange for his cooperation with the Russia investigation.
Whatever Romeo and Juliet may have fantasized, this episode is factual.