Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Propagating Propaganda

Emerging from his basement, Donald Trump will soon be making his first public appearance, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, since leaving the presidency. So Chris Cuomo on Monday night interviewed the chairman of CPAC, veteran Republican strategist Matt Schlapp. They spoke about GOP claims of (imaginary) widespread voter fraud. But then the exchange turned (at 7:12 of the video below) to a related topic:

Schlapp: And you spent four years saying there was Russian collusion and that there was not- and that the election should be questioned and Hillary Clinton said Joe Biden should never, ever concede and this is like, this is like hypocrisy I've never seen.

Cuomo: Not only, hold on, hold on, this is why. Not only did I say there was collusion. I will say it now that there was collusion. Collusion is not a crime; it's a behavior. And Trump's people did what they do best. They did dumb things for bad reasons. But look, you made your arguments. I gave you your time. We'll look to see what happens at CPAC. You're welcome on the show.

Schlapp: Bob Mueller found no collusion, my friend. He did not find no collusion.

Cuomo: Collusion is not a crime. He wasn't even looking at it as such. Learn to read, my brother. It's right in the details. Good to see you. I gotta go.

Schlapp: There was nothing inappropriate with Russia in the 2016 election.

Cuomo: He never said that; never said it. I'm glad to offer you the platform. Let the people decide.

No collusion; nothing inappropriate with Russia in the 2016 election.  Following Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in June, 2018 about the Special Counsel's report, lawyers Barbara McQuade and Joyce White Vance explained in June 2019

Mueller spent almost 200 pages describing “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.” He found that “a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” He also found that “a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations” against the Clinton campaign and then released stolen documents.

While Mueller was unable to establish a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians involved in this activity, he made it clear that “[a] statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.” In fact, Mueller also wrote that the “investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

Thanks in part to the pre-emptive report of then-Attorney General Barr which flagrantly misrepresented the Special Counsel's findings, the Republican base denies the link between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The likes of Matt Schlapp know better but are well-versed in Mythmaking 101.

Nonetheless, lies about the election of 2016 and of 2020 both serve to undermine public confidence in elections, thus laying the groundwork for accelerated voter suppression. It's not bad strategy, actually. for a party which knows it cannot win other than by preventing the other side from voting.


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