Thursday, May 24, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about a pre-existing lie.

During this morning's "executive time," and shortly before he released his letter rage-quitting from the proposed North Korea summit, Trump claimed that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper "has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign."

There are two levels of lie here. First, Clapper said no such thing

What Clapper did say was this: "They were spying on — a term I don't particularly like ... on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand, 'Were the Russians infiltrating? Trying to gain access? Trying to gain leverage or influence?' Which is what they do."

In other words, Clapper was "admitting" that the FBI was performing its counter-espionage mission by trying to find out how and to what extent the Putin regime was attempting to intervene in the election, and whether they had succeeded in getting a foothold in Trump's campaign.

The second level of deception is in Trump's insistence that what he calls "spygate" happened at all. Nobody, anywhere, including Trump, has offered any evidence of any Obama-led or "deep state" conspiracy to surveil his campaign. And as president, Trump could know instantaneously if there were, and publish it on Twitter within minutes. (Nothing so far on that front.)

Why does this matter?

  • It would be an enormous scandal if the FBI hadn't tried to disrupt Russia's sabotage of the election--which is something Trump agreed with as recently as February.
  • It's wrong to lie.
  • It's worse to tell easily disproved lies, because it suggests contempt for the people you're expecting to believe the lie.
  • The belief that one has enemies who are constantly conspiring against him is called paranoia, and it is not a sign of good mental health.