A few days ago, during an informal press gaggle held just before Comrade Trump flew off to whatever rally or golf course he had on his schedule, a reporter asked him about the renewed press for impeachment. This is Trump’s response:
“You know, it’s interesting — nobody has even mentioned this question to me in so long. Until last night at the very end, it wasn’t even mentioned in the debates. People aren’t even thinking — it’s a hoax. I don’t know if you know that. You know it’s a hoax, right? So, nobody has mentioned it to me. One thing I will say that you haven’t covered: Two days ago, a highly respected judge in the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, came out with a decision on the whole Russia hoax, and he said exactly that: it’s a hoax. You ought to read the decision. This is a decision by a judge who is highly respected — who was appointed by Bill Clinton when he was President — and he came out and he said, “It’s a hoax.” And that’s exactly what it is. This was a case brought by the Democrats against me, and nobody wants to talk about it. You know why? Because it’s fake news.”
I know this isn’t going to surprise you, but that’s not exactly what the judge said. In fact, it’s not even remotely close to what the judge said.
Here’s what happened. The Democratic National Committee sued the Russian Federation for hacking into its servers. As a result of that hack — and the Trump campaign’s cooperation in disseminating the illegally obtained information — the DNC suffered significant damages, including a “dramatic drop” in donations and a million dollars to repair and fix the cybersecurity issues. DNC staff members also suffered online harassment and death threats as a result of the leaks. The suit also included a number of defendants who were members of the Trump campaign who’d actively aided the Russian Federation in distributing the stolen material.
Judge John G. Koeltl ruled that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act prevented the DNC from suing the Russian Federation for damages in U.S. courts, even if Russia had acted illegally and damages were suffered. The judge also ruled that since the “second level participants” (the Trump campaign) didn’t aid in the actual hacking, they weren’t liable for that act. And finally, the judge ruled the Trump campaign’s distribution of the illegally obtained information was protected by the First Amendment “in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place.”
So no, the judge didn’t say Russian interference was a hoax. What he said was that Russia had committed a crime, that the Trump campaign benefited from that crime knowing it was a crime, but was protected by the First Amendment when they disseminated information obtained by that crime.
“You ought to read the decision,” Comrade Trump said. As if he’d actually read it. If he had read the decision, it’s possible — oh hell, it’s probable — he didn’t understand it. I mean, the guy is a fucking idjit; the complexities of the law are as meaningless to him as the physics of Frisbee flight are to a dog. The dog can catch the Frisbee without doing the math, and Trump can understand the suit was dismissed without understanding why. But it’s a mistake to assume the dog or Trump has any sort of grasp on the underlying mechanics that spark their behavior.
In addition to being a fucking idjit, Trump is also a fucking liar. Even if he had read the decision and understood it, he’d almost certainly would have lied about it. Because that’s what he does.
The news media knows all this. Yet because of tradition and the institutional inability to adapt, the news media will continue to ask questions of Comrade Trump, knowing his answers are essentially meaningless in terms of reality. And the news media will continue to repeat those answers as if they have meaning, when the shared reality of all legitimate news agencies is this: Trump is a fucking idjit and a fucking liar.
Ain’t nothing fake about that.
NOTE: By the way, there hasn’t been an official White House press briefing since March 11, when former Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gave an eleven minute briefing. That’s 145 days, nearly five months, without a press briefing. The current Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, hasn’t held any press briefings at all. Her salary is around US$180,000. Assuming she actually exists.