As the whistleblower scandal unfolds with a steady drip of new and shocking information, the gaslighting and spin by the Trump camp is now in full swing. Donald Trump chimed in this morning, casting the allegations against him as a purely partisan effort aimed at his presidency: “The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again! They think I may have had a ‘dicey’ conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a ‘highly partisan’ whistleblowers statement.”
First of all, Donald Trump’s claim that the whistleblower is “highly partisan” is based on nothing in particular, since the identity of the person who filed the report is still unknown, except to a very small number of persons. Given how hard Trump has worked to weed out dissenters and to surround himself with nothing but the most ardent loyalists, it is somewhat unlikely that an agent of the “Radical Left” had access to the information that forms the basis of the urgent complaint.
Furthermore, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, is a Trump appointee, and he deemed the whistleblower complaint to be “credible” and “of urgent concern.” It should be clear to anyone with a working mind that a situation in which the person heading the nation’s executive branch is suspected of having engaged in flagrant misconduct is not a partisan matter – it is a situation that every American should want to see investigated. Donald Trump’s supporters seem to disagree with that, however, and they are basing their objections against the release of the whistleblower’s report to Congress on two main arguments.
Argument number one was laid out by Phil Mudd in a spittle-flecked interview with Chris Cuomo in which the former CIA analyst shouted that it was “not the responsibility of the intel guys to go police the president and go snitch on him to the Congress. Ridiculous!” Mudd’s mischaracterization of a member of the intelligence community who had followed legal protocol to lodge a complaint about serious misconduct as a snitch was happily picked up by Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller which proceeded to make it the headline of one of its articles. We are now at the point, apparently, where the clerk who sets off the alarm during a bank robbery gets blamed, and not the bank robber.
The other line of argumentation is that the president can say anything and make any promise to a foreign head of state that he sees fit. “He can say what he wants, Chris,” Phil Mudd told Cuomo on live television, and many other pro-Trump commenters are echoing this notion. Trump and his supporters are drunk on an interpretation of Article II that gives the president unlimited power and indeed places him above the laws of the land. They have thus progressed from Trump’s infamous quote that he could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes to saying that he could shoot someone and not be criminally charged.
Quite tellingly, none of the comments made by Trump’s sycophants address the substance of the whistleblower’s complaint – namely, the allegation that Donald Trump tried to horse-trade U.S. taxpayer money in the shape of security aid to Ukraine for help with his personal re-election campaign. According to Former DOJ chief spokesperson Matthew Miller – now an MSNBC justice and security analyst – that is “about as high a crime and misdemeanor as one can imagine.”