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Trump Hypocrisy and Fear of Russian Ties Revealed Reaches New High

Trump Hypocrisy and Fear of Russian Ties Revealed Reaches New High

By Dennis Loo (2/23/17)

As you know, Trump and his people have been saying lately that mainstream media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, Time et al are “fake news” and have gone so far as to say that they are “enemies” of the American people.

In particular, Chief of Staff Reince Preibus made the rounds of the weekend talk shows to repeat his boss’ claims that the widespread reports that there have been frequent contacts between the Trump camp and Russia are totally false. Preibus also said that the (common and necessary practice of) news media of citing anonymous sources was wrong and that people should always be named if they're in news accounts.

This is what Preibus said to Fox News Sunday last weekend:

"The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, you know, some treasonous type of accusations. We have now all kinds of people looking into this. I can assure you and I have been approved to say this -- that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it's grossly overstated and it was wrong. And there's nothing to it," Preibus said on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend.

There are so many errors in that statement but I will just pick up a few. First of all, it wasn't just the New York Times reporting contacts frequently between the Trump campaign and Russia. It was in the Washington Post, CNN, and numerous other sources. Secondly, Preibus is also using the same practice that he and others in the Trump camp has previously criticized – citing unattributed and unnamed sources. He's doing it in the very same passage. Thirdly, it's either grossly overstated or wrong, not both. An overstatement is a statement that exaggerates the significance of something that's real. A wrong statement is just plain wrong. Finally, he continues to deny any contacts with Russia.

But the FBI has transcripts of the conversation between former NSA head Mike Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to the US, which is exactly why Flynn was forced to resign finally. There is no other explanation for why he was fired than that. The story that Trump and his spokesperson Sean Spicer put out that it was “eroding trust” in the Flynn that led to his resignation, three weeks after Trump being notified that Flynn was lying by the Justice Department, is just BS.

According to today’s CNN report, after initially failing to convince the FBI to deny those stories, “The same White House official said that Priebus later reached out again to [FBI’s Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe and to FBI Director James Comey asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories.”

In other words, after failing to convince the FBI to lie about what they already what they already said on of the contacts between the Russian camp and the Trump Camp, by saying that they had overstated the contacts, Preibus tries to convince them to be anonymous sources saying the same thing. He was, in other words, advocating another version of anonymous sourcing which he was criticizing in the first place.

As this CNN report states, the attempt to apply White House pressure that Preibus was engaged in, is illegal since the FBI is supposed to remain untainted by pressure from the White House on the basis that we are supposedly a country where everyone, including the president, is subject to the law, not just some of us.

“The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.”

As I previously pointed out, the Russian – Trump camp connection is going to be one of the things that undoes this presidency. Eventually, more transcripts will surface and more details will come out. So no matter how much Trump and his followers claim otherwise, transcripts of verbatim conversations between Russia and the Trump camp cannot be buried by hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of Trump tweets. It is the height of hypocrisy for them to complain about unnamed sources being used when they are doing it themselves in the course of complaining about it. But the Trump administration knows no shame and thinks that everyone who supports them now will swallow absolutely anything and everything.

As a postscript to this essay, let me note that Trump’s complaints' about the mainstream media characterizes them as the “losing” or “failing” New York Times, and others, as if to say that what really matters in the ultimate analysis is whether they're making money or not. This is not true. Even if they were failing financially, that does not say anything about the truth of what they're saying. The two are independent of each other. Trump displays his value system when conflating financial success with success about telling the truth. In fact, the Washington Post has gained millions more readers and The New York Times is up something like 42%. The point is, the popularity or financial success of something does not indicate one way or the other by itself whether something is valid or not. 

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