My members-only essay for Banter M this week focused on the frustrations and futility involved in debating Trump supporters in the post-fact, post-truth, post-hypocrisy era. How do we reach out to Trump supporters when they exist in a bubble of misinformation, contradictions and the erratic, vulgar words of a serial liar in the Oval Office? We simply can’t. There’s no reasoning with Trumpers and therefore outreach is useless. The whataboutism, the gaslighting, the complete disconnect with objective reality — there’s no breaking through on any of it, irrespective of how well our arguments are sourced and presented.
Along those lines, we have the colossal breaking news that Michael Flynn and his legal team have struck a plea deal with prosecutors in which Flynn will testify that then-President-elect Trump ordered him to contact Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about the Russian response to U.S. sanctions — sanctions applied in response to the Russian attack on our election. It’s the first definitive story in which Trump appears to be directly linked to ongoing communications with the Kremlin while Vladimir Putin’s intelligence services continued its efforts to infiltrate our democratic institutions.
How can the deadly seriousness of this development be denied by anyone? Flynn has confessed his guilt, that he lied to the FBI about contacts with the Russians, and Trump is clearly at the center of the operation, which includes Flynn, to perpetuate an under-the-table alliance with a hostile foreign regime in Moscow. We know this now. But, of course, there will still be deniers and the usual coffee-klatch of “nothingburger” skeptics who increasingly appear as if they, too, have something to hide — or perhaps they’ve been fully indoctrinated into the cult of Trump. Either way, the facts suggest there’s plenty of fire. Now more than ever.
Nevertheless, the White House responded to the news with an excuse that’ll surely infect Fox News and its pro-Trump fanboys.
lol wut? White House now saying Obama "authorized" Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador. pic.twitter.com/0VVl0TN2ci
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) December 1, 2017
CNN’s Jim Acosta reported that the White House believes the Obama administration “authorized” Flynn to communicate with Kislyak about the sanctions. In other words, it’s all Obama’s fault, which is as ludicrous as it sounds.
This is craptastically insane.
There’s absolutely no way Obama authorized Flynn to undermine the sanctions it had just applied to Russia in response to the election attack. Naturally, you’ll never convince Trumpers otherwise, but since this one’s super easy to refute, we’ll try anyway.
First, Obama warned Trump about Flynn. The intelligence community, in the form of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, warned Trump about Flynn. Indeed, Obama fired Flynn, as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency because Flynn became increasingly erratic and abusive around his staff. Oh, and Flynn hates Obama more than Obama hates Flynn. So there’s that.
Second, there’s simply no way Obama gave Flynn the go-ahead. How do we know? Why would Obama authorize a Trump adviser whom he distrusts to, 1) circumvent John Kerry’s State Department, and 2) to tamp down the diplomatic repercussions of the sanctions, knowing that Trump and Flynn, not to mention a cast of dozens, were already colluding with Russia and its ongoing attack? It makes no sense in any universe — except in Trump’s addled brain, of course.
And finally, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called the accusation “absurd.”
This is just one more example of the same old Trumper trope: whatever happens, blame Obama for the bad shit. In addition to suggesting Obama authorized Flynn’s collusion, the White House also spent the day telling reporters that Flynn was an “Obama official.” While, sure, Flynn was the head of the DIA under Obama, he was (to repeat) fired in 2014, two years before the transition, and, more famously, Flynn was Trump’s National Security Adviser most recently. Doy. Framing Flynn as an Obama guy is deeply misleading and deliberately elliptical.
If Trumpers were at all self-aware, they’d know they were being conned by their cartoon cult leader. But, I suppose, ignorance is bliss. And as of now, I’m done trying to convince them to abandon their blissfulness — their cozy orange safe space.