Donald Trump has one move—demean the motives and morality of honorable women and men to distract from his own actions. It doesn’t matter if the target is Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Adam Schiff, or Robert Mueller, Trump’s only response is the monkey house move—throw shit, hope some of it sticks. Then throw more shit.
The latest heaping fling is directed at House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff over an article published in The New York Times on Wednesday under the provocative title “Schiff, House Intel Chairman, Got Early Warning of Whistle-Blower’s Accusations.” By the time Trump dragged the excessively uncomfortable president of Finland in front of the cameras on Wednesday, that title alone had already been consumed, digested, and plopped into Trump’s hands as an accusation that Rep. Schiff didn’t just know about the account, but authored it.
“It shows that Schiff is a fraud,” Trump said the first time he was asked about the story. “I think it’s a scandal that he knew before. I’d go a step further. I’d say he probably helped write it.” And, as always, Trump was willing to turn his own initial attack into a “fact” just minutes later when he said, “That’s a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it too. It’s a scam.”
It took roughly zero milliseconds for Republicans to pick up their own handfuls of lies and begin throwing right along with Trump, culminating in House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeting that Chairman Schiff “just got caught orchestrating with the whistleblower” and, of course, that “Democrats have rigged this process from the start.” McCarthy has now submitted a motion to censure Adam Schiff in the House.
But there’s another way to read that New York Times story, one that’s far more accurate than the title would suggest: In the whistleblower case, everyone did everything according to the rules. The whistleblower initially reported their concerns to the chief legal counsel at the CIA. Then, worried that no action appeared to be underway, they contacted a House intelligence staffer. That staffer advised the whistleblower to meet with the intelligence community inspector general, and told them that they might want to consider contacting an attorney to advise on further action.
And that’s it. Schiff didn’t meet with the whistleblower. The staffer did not identify the whistleblower to Schiff. The whistleblower did not detail the complaint to the staffer. Everything that both Trump and McCarthy are claiming is a lie—and they know it.
Trump’s press event on Wednesday, in which he claimed the whistleblower wasn’t legitimate and was actually a spy, and in which he first suggested that Schiff helped write the complaint, then simply stated that Schiff wrote it, was a prime example of Trump in action. Make up lies. Make up more lies. Just keep assailing the character of those bringing evidence against him.
But when asked why he was trying to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden, Trump simply didn’t answer. Then he got angry.
Because the poo-fling? It’s all he has.