If you’ve been paying attention to the coordinated attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller coming from the pro-Trump media, you will have noticed a dramatic acceleration over the past couple of weeks. This is because Trump is almost certainly planning to fire him, yet again obstructing the course of justice and paving the way for a bonafide fascist takeover of America.
If you think this is hyperbole and that “it couldn’t happen here”? Think again — it isn’t hyperbole, and it very much is happening here. The efforts to delegitimize Mueller, a lifetime Republican with a spotless record of professionalism, have been extraordinary. When Mueller was appointed earlier this year, former House Speaker and Trump acolyte Newt Gingrich had the following to say:
Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) May 18, 2017
But when Mueller began to do his job and close in on the obvious collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, Gingrich quickly changed his tune.
“Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt,” he said on Fox News last week. Gingrich has been running a relentless smear campaign against the FBI, accusing the organization of “profound dishonesty” and extraordinary bias against Trump:
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) December 7, 2017
No one has been perpetuating this nonsense more than Sean Hannity, who takes to the airwaves every night to loudly blare pro-Trump conspiratorial garbage to his diehard Trump viewers.
“Mueller’s credibility is in the gutter tonight with these new discoveries, his conflicts of interests, his clear bias, the corruption are on full display,” said Hannity recently. “Mueller is frankly a disgrace to the American justice system and has put the country now on the brink of becoming a banana republic.”
The investigation, according to Hannity, the product of “Robert Mueller’s partisan extremely biased hyper-partisan attack team” — a claim he makes with no evidence other than the fact that some agents in Mueller’s team supported Hillary Clinton during the election (most sane Americans supported Clinton and anyone working for the FBI who supported her is likely to be far more reasonable, rational and professional than a Trump supporter). Hannity has been presenting a completely alternate universe to his viewers that is so radical and so insane that he is no longer reachable by anyone outside of the Fox News/Breitbart bubble. This is of course, by design. Hannity knows that to support Trump you have to completely deny objective reality with unyielding religious fervor. The more crazy Trump gets, the more defiant and certain of himself Hannity becomes.
Perhaps more troubling is Tucker Carlson’s role in this ceaseless campaign of disinformation. Carlson, who isn’t as openly shameless as hacks like Gingrich or Hannity, is providing a more subtle cover for the president by poking holes in the Mueller investigation, calling it a “tainted probe” and questioning its premise. This interview with with the National Review’s Contributing Editor Andrew McCarthy is a perfect example of Tucker’s sly efforts to delegitimize the probe and lay the groundwork for Trump to dismiss Mueller:
According to Mc Carthy and Carlson, there is no evidence of collusion because the evidence — at least according to them — shows Trump team didn’t start talking to the Russians until after the election was finished. Of course this doesn’t include Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton in June of 2016.
“If we come away from this, whatever happens, with half the country believing this was in effect a coup staged by the permanent class, the ruling class, against a president they didn’t pick, if people really believe that, that’s a disaster,” said Carlson to McCarthy. “And shouldn’t the Justice Department be doing everything they can to make sure that people don’t think that?”
More recently, Carlson tweeted the following dark warnings about the “Deep State” and the efforts by the so-called ruling class to delegitimize Trump:
The point is clear: the #FBI is out of control and not just in the @realDonaldTrump investigation. An agency charged with enforcing the law clearly considers itself above the law. That's a threat to you, and every American, no matter who you voted for. #Tucker @FoxNews
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) December 5, 2017
This is how secret police start, when law enforcement agencies decide to do the bidding of politicians, rather than pursue impartial justice on behalf of the public. Let's nip this nightmare in the bud right now. #FBI #Tucker @FoxNews
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) December 6, 2017
This coupled with non-stop Hillary Clinton baiting (what about her emails!) and far right websites like Breitbart.com putting out stories like the one below has created a deep division in the country.
The overall effect has been to wall off Trump supporters into their own already warped bubble of reality and render them incapable of making a rational decision. You either support Trump, or you side with Democrats, Hillary Clinton and the “Deep State” that is trying to overthrow a democratically elected president. The orchestrated smear campaign against Mueller and his team hasn’t actually produced any evidence of the probe being biased (supporting Hillary Clinton or being a Democrat doesn’t preclude you from being able to do your job properly), but the tactic is obvious: chuck enough mud at the investigation and something is bound to stick — at least with the right people.
The increased intensity of the right wing mouth pieces denouncing Mueller and his team coincides with the increasing view that Trump is in deep, deep trouble. The evidence for collusion is mounting and it is beyond any reasonable doubt that Trump has attempted to obstruct justice. Trump’s allies know this and they are looking to create enough doubt in the minds of the public to allow Trump to fire Mueller for crossing some imaginary line (Trump publicly declared that any investigation into his finances would constitute a red line, and Mueller has already gone there). Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent about the investigation, no doubt on the advice of his legal team, but he understands full well how bad it is going to get.
As Mueller closes in on his inner circle, the president has only two options, each with catastrophic consequences. The first would be to leave Mueller alone to do his job — a move that would almost certainly spell disaster. Those closest to him would end up going to jail, and the pressure to hold him accountable for the numerous crimes he has committed would be immense. The second is for him to fire Mueller — a move that would essentially destroy the notion that the United States is a function democracy governed by the rule of law.
Unfortunately, this would be beneficial to Trump for a number of reasons, the primary being concrete proof that Trump can say or do whatever he pleases without recourse. Trump knows Congress is unlikely to stop or move to impeach him given they have given in to his scorched earth policy since the inception of his campaign in 2015. Without any body of government able to hold him to account, Trump will then be able to govern unchecked for, well, who knows how long.
While this may seem alarmist, one must consider what the end game for Trump is. He knows that if he gets booted out of office, his power he’ll have no way to defend himself from the legal recriminations he’ll face when Democrats, at some point, control the White House. The Left will want justice for the atrocious things Trump has done while in office, and any elected leader will have to take action to make him pay. There is no way Trump will allow this to happen if he has any control over it, and America will find out that democracy can disappear in the blink of an eye in the right political climate.
This was why many on the left (and right) spoke out so desperately about the dangers of a Trump administration. He fit the archetype of a fascist dictator to a T, and his time in office has done nothing to quell the fear that his ambitions go beyond that of term limits and the normal rule of law. Men like Donald Trump do not ever go quietly. They kick, scream and tear everything down around them to get what they want, and no amount of power is ever enough. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in a powerful essay in 2016 recalling Plato’s description of ‘The Tyrant’ who destroys democracy:
If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.
Sullivan described Trump’s potential presidency as “an extinction level event” — an event we are now living in. The daily bombardment of lies, disinformation, vicious attacks on the media and political brinksmanship are part of a deliberate campaign by Trump and his team to destroy the will of the public. Make no mistake about it, Trump is going to fire Mueller, and if there is no mass movement to hold him to account, American democracy is finished.
The only solution to this seismic event is to resist. Resist the lies, resist the insults, resist the normalization of his presidency and resist everyone who still supports him. Not one inch can be yielded to this madness, and those who intend to fight must get ready for the battle of their lives.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.