|Allow me to present the following words, courtesy of the president of the United States of America: (Chicago Tribune)|
“If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered — many times higher than normal. Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win — just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!”
That text is from two tweets sent Tuesday night by Donald Trump, the aforementioned president of the United States of America.
Now allow me to respond on behalf of Americans who have not been brainwashed by Fox News:
What in the name of all-merciful heck-fire on two slices of charred wheat toast is that jibber-jabbering narcissistic nonsense peddler talking about?
What spy? Why did you capitalize “spy”? Follow what money? Why did you capitalize “Collusion” — twice? If he was there to help Crooked Hillary win, he did a terrible job of it, and what the hell does Bernie Sanders have to do with all this?
I realize we’re supposed to become inured to the incoherent ramblings of a president who drifts through life unburdened by things like reality or consequences or object permanence, but for some of us, the mental callouses haven’t quite built up, making garbled presidential tweet farts like the ones Trump ripped Tuesday night still seem shocking in their pungent perversity.
They were followed Wednesday morning by more conspiratorial Twitter rambling: “Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!”
He even attributed a fabricated quote to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign.” Clapper never said those words, but hey, if Trump can stuff it in his balderdash cannon, he’s going to fire regardless.
In all this, the president was clearly trying to promote a conspiratorial narrative he and his team of devoted dunderheads have been clumsily building, one that paints special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign as a devious and long-unfolding attempt to destroy his presidency. It’s like something you would read by famed spy novelist John le Carre, if le Carre was incurious, prone to random capitalization and uniquely bad at writing spy novels.
The person Trump was referring to as a spy is actually a longtime FBI informant (there’s a difference, Google it) named Stefan Halper. He’s an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge in England and a lifelong Republican who was part of past GOP administrations. (Funny how all the VERY BAD Deep State traitors out to get Trump are Republicans, including Mueller himself.)
The FBI was investigating Russian interference during the campaign and had Halper make contact with two members of the Trump campaign — foreign policy advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page — who were already under FBI scrutiny. Halper also met with a third campaign member, campaign co-chair Sam Clovis.
The money Trump referenced in his Tuesday night tweets is presumably the more than $1 million the government paid Halper for his services over the years, dating at least back to 2012, which included work for a Pentagon think tank. The Washington Post reported that some of the money Halper was paid was used to pay “other academics and experts” he had hired to conduct research and prepare reports.
So, to deconstruct Trump’s poorly constructed Tuesday night tweets: No person was “placed” in his campaign; that person was neither a spy, nor a SPY; there’s no evidence Halper was used for political purposes, but rather as part of a legitimate and important investigation into Russia campaign interference; the amount of money wasn’t massive, given the years it covered, and if you follow the money it takes you to a very reasonable place — the reimbursement of a longtime academic source used by the federal government; we have no idea whether the “spy,” who was not at all a spy, reported on “Collusion” because it’s a classified investigation and the only reason the informant has been outed is because Trump and his minions forced his identity out into the open, possibly putting his life and the lives of others at risk for their own selfish ends; if he was there to help Hillary Clinton win it seems someone would have announced all the oddly Russia-connected people working for the Trump campaign prior to the election, when it would have actually helped her; and again, no clue what’s up with the Bernie Sanders reference.
It would be easy for Americans in possession of enough gray matter to know panicked gibberish when they see it to ignore Trump’s tweets.
But we can’t do that. I won’t do that. Because, as mentioned at the beginning of this column, these are words from the president of the United States of America. Words like this from another Wednesday morning tweet: “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!”
These words are dishonest, inflammatory and divisive and they sow distrust in some of our nation’s most important institutions. They are self-serving to the extreme, the kind of anti-government claptrap that emboldens deranged denizens of the darkest corners of our society.
It’s wildly unpresidential and, if we’re being honest, it’s getting worse. I imagine Trump about three tweets and a campaign conspiracy involving the Hamburglar away from running across the White House lawn in his underwear screaming something about pancakes and chem trails.
Some can laugh this off. Some are happy to have an oafish president smashing democratic norms like a meth-addled bull in a glass factory. Some can nuzzle their tax breaks and purr, “It’s all just fine.”
I can’t do any of those things. I know many of you can’t either.
So I’ll say this, on behalf of Americans who don’t think their president should be barf-tweeting horrible John le Carre fan fiction in a transparent effort to hide the fact that he’s guiltier than a dog with meatloaf on his breath:
Our president seems unwell. And none of this will ever be normal.
Sent from my IPad