Email #327: “evil politics”?

The President tweeted on Friday:

“It is now commonly agreed, after many months of COSTLY looking, that there was NO collusion between Russia and Trump. Was collusion with HC!”

Ignoring the extraordinarily false statement that any of the ongoing investigations have concluded that there was no collusion, Press Secretary Sanders made the same accusation against Hillary Clinton:

“if there was anyone that was colluding with the Russians to influence the election look no further than the Clintons and the DNC. Hypocrisy at the highest level and a new low in politics. Everything the Clinton campaign and DNC were falsely accusing the president of doing the past year they were doing it themselves.”

The issue revolves around the dossier of 17 memos produced by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele between June and October 2016. Steele worked for Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm contracted by an as-yet-unnamed GOP donor during the primaries. The Clinton campaign hired the firm in June. Steele collected a range of unsubstantiated information regarding Donald Trump’s connections to Russia, including that he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail for having sex with prostitutes while in Moscow and that he was colluding with Russia to influence the election. The memos do not identify Steel’s sources nor provide any evidence for their claims.

Michael Cohen, the President’s attorney, said in January when the dossier was made public: “It’s so ridiculous on so many levels. Clearly, the person who created this did so from their imagination or did so hoping that the liberal media would run with this fake story for whatever rationale they might have.” But the Washington Post, an alleged leader of the liberal media, dismissed the dossier too, calling it “high-grade gossip.”

When subpoenaed to testify earlier this month before the House Intelligence Committee—which, unlike you House Judiciary Committee, is investigating these matters—two Fusion GPS executives invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than self-incriminate. President Trump responded by tweet:

“Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”

The dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign. That’s not in question. It’s literally how Fusion GPS stays in business. If the information in the dossier is “fake,” then Fusion GPS cheated the Clinton campaign.

So then on what grounds do the President and Press Secretary Sanders accuse Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia? Where is the “hypocrisy”? What “new low” do they mean? The White House’s counter accusation–“Everything the Clinton campaign and DNC were falsely accusing the president of doing the past year they were doing it themselves”–is at best illogical and at worst an act of deliberate misinformation to distract from other investigations.

Yesterday morning the President expanded his accusations on Twitter:

“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

Is it coincidental that the President’s rhetoric reaches its newest low mark–he’s not accused Democrats of “evil” before–just as news sources are reporting that special counsel Mueller is about to make his first criminal indictments as early as today?

In contrast to the President Trump, Republican Senator Portman, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday: “We ought to instead focus on the outrage that the Russians meddled in our elections.”

Do you agree with the Senator or with the President?

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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