Donald Trump's war on the news media reached all new depths this week.
It doesn't take a lot of sleuthing to see how the brutal torture and murder of The Washington Post's Jamal Khashoggi has Trump's fingerprints all over it. Indeed, as we learn more and more about the story, it should be abundantly clear that this was a quid pro quo gone horribly awry. Knowing what we know about Trump's links to the Saudis, not to mention Jared Kushner's deep financial ties to Mohammed bin Salman, it's obvious that the White House knew Khashoggi was being set up for assassination.
We learned almost immediately after the journalist's disappearance that intelligence officials, most likely the National Security Agency, knew what was happening. And if the NSA knew, then Trump knew as well. Did he order the CIA to intervene? Did he order intelligence agents to stand down?
From the perspective of who benefited, Trump's name is all over this. On top of protecting his family's business relationship with MBS, one of the other upsides for the president is that it sends a signal to the press: If you attack Trump the way The Washington Post has, then expect more journalists to be disappeared. At the very least, Trump is deliberately soft-pedaling this murder because a member of the "fake news" -- one who's paid by Jeff Bezos and Amazon, who Trump hates -- was killed, stoking his crackpot base that's been conditioned to hate the news media.
Ultimately? Another win for Trump.
As if that weren't bad enough, Trump encouraged more physical attacks against the press during his endless cocaine rant in Montana Thursday night. Don't forget: while Trump lectures the rest of us about the evil "angry mob" of Democrats, going so far as to concoct the hashtag #JobsNotMobs, Trump continues to be the only political leader in America to threaten violent attacks against protesters -- against American citizens.
- "Knock the crap out of them!"
- "Maybe he should have been roughed up."
- "I'll beat the crap out of you."
- "I'd like to punch him in the face."
- "Part of the problem... is nobody wants to hurt each other."
- "The audience hit back and that's what we need a little bit more of."
These are all Trump quotes. He's counting on the fact that his cult followers won't remember all those times he encouraged them to assault protesters, even while they applaud and cheer for this:
Khashoggi's body has yet to be recovered by American officials, but Trump's already congratulating a Republican politician, Greg Gianforte, who literally body-slammed a reporter from The Guardian last May.
Again, Trump expects us to treat him as the legitimate president of the entire nation. At the same time, he's accusing half of us of being an "angry mob," while encouraging violence against activists and reporters -- all of whom are American citizens. The president is doing all this.
Don't believe for a second that Trump and his minion aren't the real thugs in American politics. There's a body count now. We know the names of the injured and the dead. We know who began this eliminationist rhetoric (see above bulletpoints) and we know where the buck is supposed to stop (hint: it's not at Maxine Waters' desk).
Two weeks from Tuesday, we have a chance to hold Trump accountable for all of it.
18 days to go...