Friday, January 26, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He called reports that he'd ordered the firing of Robert Mueller "fake news."

Trump's two-word dismissal of last night's bombshell New York Times story was probably inevitable: there may not be a negative news report in his presidency that he hasn't called a media lie. But in this case, it probably merits a little more attention.

Within hours of the NYT report, which was based on four sources, it had been independently verified by NBC News (citing "a source with firsthand knowledge close to the White House"), the Washington Post ("two people familiar with the episode"), and Politico ("a person familiar with the episode"). Even the one media outlet that Trump says isn't fake news--Fox News--confirmed it, citing "a source close to the White House." 

Even assuming that all of those independent verifications came back to the same four sources, then if Trump is to be believed, one of two things must be true. One is that every major news outlet in America, including its most conservative and pro-Trump network, is deliberately lying about the existence of such people. The other is that there are at least four people inside Trump's inner circle who are part of a conspiracy to maliciously lie about him.

Trump personally has a whopper of a motive (if not a particularly positive one) to cast doubt on the report: an attempt to fire Mueller without cause would be in and of itself obstruction of justice. Trump's lawyers and White House spokespersons, who would have no such motive, have remained conspicuously silent on the matter.

Why does this matter?