In the relentless PR war to convince America that there was no collusion, no Russian hacks and no need to investigate the president for crimes against his own country, Donald Trump tweeted this in support of the widely ridiculed Devin Nunes today:
Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
Nunes will go down in history as a fourth rate hack who sold what little integrity he had to shill for the worst president in US history, and with Trump’s endorsement of his integrity, he may be remembered even more cynically. Nevertheless, his impact on America in the short term
The ‘Nunes Memo’ — a cynically misleading, blatant and childish attempt to defraud the American public over the supposed bias of America’s intelligence agencies, has been roundly discredited by the media and every responsible politician in Washington. Yet here Trump is pumping out ludicrous propaganda designed to bolster the alternate reality he and his supporters live in. The notion that Nunes is “a great American hero” for what he has “endured” is a fantasy of truly epic proportions, yet this will be parroted ad infinitum Sean Hannity and Fox and Friends until the 35% of Americans who still support the president truly believe it.
Trump understands that this is enough for him to survive — as long as his base supports him over the memo, the Republicans won’t challenge him and they will continue as if the Nunes Memo vindicated him all along. This is all Trump needs to prevent justice from being served. The grand illusion becomes political reality as America’s institutions find themselves unable to curtail the current war on the FBI and intelligence community. As Trump’s base turns the FBI, Trump and his acolytes are banking on the organization crumbling under pressure and either severely limiting the scope of the Mueller investigation or shutting it down completely.
This playbook has been tried and tested many times before by Republicans, and Trump is using it mercilessly. Hillary Clinton for example, endured unimaginable smears with no basis in reality from the GOP that ultimately had their desired effect. The media treated Clinton as a moral equal to Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and it helped pave the way for Trump’s highly unlikely victory. Trump and the Republicans are now applying the same tactics to the FBI — smearing it relentlessly with evidence free assertions in order to wreck its credibility. The corporate news media isn’t doing a particularly good job debunking the Nunes Memo, and as a consequnce much of the public likely believes it has at least some elements of truth to it (it doesn’t). And that is more than enough for the Republicans to successfully derail the bureau’s investigation into Trump’s collusion with the Russian government.
America’s institutions are officially in grave danger, and nothing short of a monumental effort by the Democrats and the public will put a stop to it. Because if they don’t, it’s hard to see how the Mueller probe can continue to ensure justice is served.
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.