Trump’s Anti-Impeachment Tactics Mirror His Anti-Mueller Tactics
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is making his case against an impeachment inquiry by relying on the same tricks and tactics he used to fight the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
He’s called it a hoax, fake news and a witch hunt. He’s attacked investigators as partisans, called the process unfair and prematurely claimed exoneration.
Here’s a closer look at Trump’s playbook.
Set your own legal standard
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Early on, Trump argued there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia – a legally vague term that sets a higher bar than whether there was any improper contact.
“Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” – Trump tweet, May 8, 2017, referring to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has set a similarly high bar, arguing that there was “no quid pro quo” between his administration and the Ukrainian government, setting a higher bar than whether he improperly pressured the country, which has asked for U.S. aid in its conflict with Russia.
“You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 24, 2019
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump cited memos from former FBI Director James Comey, an inspector general’s report, a FISA warrant and charges against Russian hackers that he said exonerated him, even though none did and some were actually quite damning.
“James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION.” – Trump tweet, April 19, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has argued that the transcript of his telephone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy rebuffed his critics, even though it showed him asking for an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter after talking about U.S. military aid.
“Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President? They should, a perfect call - got them by surprise!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 25, 2019
Flip the script
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump repeatedly argued that not only did Russia not help his campaign, but that it actually tried to help get Hillary Clinton elected, directly contradicting the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community and Mueller’s investigation.
“There was no collusion between us and Russia. In fact, the opposite. Russia spent a lot of money on fighting me.” – Trump press remarks, Aug. 10, 2017
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has argued that not only did he not improperly pressure Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, but that Joe Biden improperly pushed Ukraine to drop it, even though prosecutors had already halted the investigation a year earlier.
“The Ukrainian Government just said they weren’t pressured at all during the ‘nice’ call. Sleepy Joe Biden, on the other hand, forced a tough prosecutor out from investigating his son’s company by threat of not giving big dollars to Ukraine. That’s the real story!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 22, 2019
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump repeatedly called the investigation a “hoax,” any reporting about his campaign “fake news,” and the entire matter a “witch hunt” and “presidential harassment.”
“There should never have been a Special Counsel appointed. Witch Hunt!” – Trump tweet, April 27, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has used many of the same terms arguing about the current inquiry, adding repeatedly that his call with the Ukrainian president was “perfect.”
“The congratulatory phone call with the Ukrainian President was PERFECT, unless you heard Liddle’ Adam Schiff’s fraudulently made up version of the call. This is just another Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, HOAX!” – Trump tweet, Oct. 1, 2019
Attack the investigators
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump repeatedly argued that Comey was a “slimeball,” former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was “disgraced,” Mueller had a conflict of interest, that his team was full of partisan Democrats and that congressional investigators were “liars and leakers.”
“Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue. The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite.” – Trump tweet, Nov. 27, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has focused his ire on House intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who oversaw the request for the complaint by a whistle-blower that touched off the investigation.
“Liddle’ Adam Schiff, who has worked unsuccessfully for 3 years to hurt the Republican Party and President, has just said that the Whistle-blower, even though he or she only had second hand information, ‘is credible.’ How can that be with zero info and a known bias. Democrat Scam!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 26, 2019
Call everyone else a liar
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump called witnesses, investigators and critics liars: Former campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos, Comey, McCabe, former CIA Director John Brennan, and Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, among others.
“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI.” – Trump tweets, April 13, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has repeatedly attacked Schiff for reading a parody of the Zelenskiy call at a congressional hearing, arguing that he was lying to the public about the call and should be forced out of office.
“Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public. He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 27, 2019
Make a false claim about the investigation
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that the Russia investigation started because of a dossier provided by Michael Steele, a former British spy, even though the FBI says it began after a tip from an Australian diplomat.
“House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.’ This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” – Trump tweet, Jan. 11, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump argued that the inspector general for the intelligence community changed a whistle-blower form to allow secondhand information in August. The inspector general and fact checkers rebutted the claim, which originated on a conservative website.
“WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLE-BLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLE-BLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 30, 2019
Call it a distraction
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump argued that the special counsel investigation was a distraction from serious issues that he needed to focus on as president.
“Sorry, I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more, and not on the Rigged Russia Witch Hunt that should be investigating Clinton/Russia/FBI/Justice/Obama/Comey/Lynch etc.” – Trump tweet, May 29, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has called his congressional critics “Do Nothing Democrats,” arguing that impeachment is hurting their ability to legislate, specifically arguing that Congress “can’t talk about gun regulation” because “they’re so tied up” with impeachment.
“It is disgraceful what the Do Nothing Democrats are doing (the Impeachment Scam), but it is also disgraceful what they are NOT doing, namely, the USMCA vote, Prescription Drug Price Reduction, Gun Safety, Infrastructure, and much more!” – Trump tweet, Sept. 28, 2019
Attack the media
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump repeatedly called reporting on his campaign’s contacts with Russia “fake news” and argued that the news media was making up stories.
“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower.” – Trump tweet, Aug. 5, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has argued that the news media is not fairly covering his interactions with Ukraine or Bidens.
“You know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country. And I say, in many cases, the ‘corrupt media’ — because you’re corrupt. Much of the media in this country is not just fake, it’s corrupt.” – Trump news conference, Oct. 2, 2019
Float conspiracy theories
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump’s first response to the release of hacked Democratic emails in 2016 was to argue that Democrats actually released the emails themselves as a distraction. A variation of this long-debunked theory even made it into his call with Zelenskiy.
“We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader.” – Trump campaign statement, June 15, 2016
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Citing a New York Times article that the whistle-blower talked with a member of Schiff’s staff before filing the complaint, Trump argued without evidence that it was proof that Schiff actually wrote the complaint himself.
“Well, I think it’s a scandal that he knew before. I’d go a step further: I think he’s probably helped write it. Okay? That’s what the word is.” – Trump news conference, Oct. 2, 2019
Blame the ‘deep state’
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump argued that the FBI, the special counsel and other investigators were part of a “deep state” conspiracy within the government to bring down his presidency.
“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!” – Trump tweet, May 23, 2018
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has made allusions to the so-called “deep state,” while one of his senior advisers, Stephen Miller, argued that the whistle-blower was a “deep state operative, pure and simple” on Fox News Sunday.
“Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistle-blower isn’t a Whistle-blower at all. In addition, all second hand information that proved to be so inaccurate that there may not have even been somebody else, a leaker or spy, feeding it to him or her? A partisan operative?” – Trump tweet, Sept. 27, 2019
Call the investigation treasonous
MUELLER INVESTIGATION: Trump argued that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was treasonous, even though the Constitution strictly defines that as waging war against the U.S. or aiding its enemies.
“Such a great victory in court yesterday on the Russian Hoax, the greatest political scam in the history of our Country. TREASON! Hopefully, the Attorney General of the United States, and all of those working with him, will find out, in great detail, what happened. NEVER AGAIN!!!!” – Trump tweet, July 31, 2019
UKRAINE SCANDAL: Trump has also argued that Schiff’s handling of the investigation is treasonous, in particular a parody of the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call he read in Congress. He also suggested in private remarks that the whistle-blower was a “spy” and guilty of “treason.”
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” – Trump tweet, Sept. 30, 2019
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