Trumpworld is, as you would expect, not very happy right now.
Following a wave of House Democrats backing the impeachment of President Donald Trump over allegations he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate his potential political rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally announced on Tuesday afternoon that the House is moving forward with an impeachment inquiry.
And like clockwork, pro-Trump media lashed out over the historic news, using many of the same tactics the president’s allies used against former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. As Pelosi launched the impeachment investigation, Trump’s media supporters claimed Trump had done nothing wrong, suggested that the whistleblower complaint against him was the result of an elaborate Deep State conspiracy, and claimed the real blame for the growing scandal lie with the man Trump sought to have investigated, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, rather than the president.
First, the president predictably raged on Twitter, unleashing a couple of tried-and-true favorites (“PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT,” “A total Witch Hunt!”), complained that the Democrats ruined his day at the United Nations, and then just named off some Democratic lawmakers.
Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, who recently credited Trump for making weekends possible, spent much of his Tuesday night broadcast railing against the “radical DIMMS” for opening an impeachment inquiry. At one point, he brought on another one of Fox’s top Trump boosters, Jeanine Pirro, to rally by the president’s side.
“What happened today was disgusting,” Pirro exclaimed, adding that nobody knows what was said on the president’s Ukrainian call at the center of the whistleblower complaint.
“We do. The president said what was said,” Dobbs replied. “He said it was perfect. And he said somebody needs to look into Biden. And, by the way, he’s right on both counts.”
Fox wasn’t the only conservative network running interference for the president. One America News CEO Robert Herring, who frequently tries to woo Trump into watching and promoting the conservative cable network over rival Fox, tweeted that his channel “has a lot of information to release on Ukraine that will leave President Trump very happy…” Meanwhile, OAN reporter and former Pizzagate conspiracy theory promoter Jack Posobiec demanded that Biden “release all of his calls with the leaders of Ukraine and China.”
Pro-Trump websites tried to suggest that the whistleblower complaint was some kind of setup by the whistleblower’s lawyers. The Federalist and the Gateway Pundit, a popular conservative blog that regularly runs hoaxes, seized on one lawyer’s history of working for Democrats. The Washington Examiner, meanwhile, claimed that the whistleblower’s two lawyers work for a group that “offers to pay officials who leak against Trump.” In fact, however, the whistleblower aid group only offers temporary housing help for whistleblowers who could lose their jobs.
Trump’s internet fanbase rallied to his side, as well. On The_Donald, the largest Reddit forum for Trump supporters, moderators pinned a meme that implied Democrats were pursuing impeachment because of “butthurt” to the top of the page.
Later during Fox’s primetime broadcast, host Tucker Carlson began his program by insisting he had “no idea” why the Democrats were looking into impeaching the president, wondering why it was “somehow criminal” for the president to ask about “Joe Biden’s ne’er do well son” receiving “600 grand a year from Russian oligarchs.”
“We have been trying to understand what the Democrats are alleging here,” he continued. “We have come to the conclusion that they are saying it was OK for Biden’s son to take this money.”
Interestingly, just a few hours earlier, Fox News anchor Shep Smith pointed out that any allegations of wrongdoing against Biden or his son are “baseless” and the narrative that’s being pushed by Trump and his supporters is a “conspiracy theory.”
One of Carlson’s guests, The Federalist’s Sean Davis, sang a familiar tune, complaining that this was “Russia all over again” and that there was “no actual evidence anywhere of any wrongdoing,” all while dismissing the allegations as “rumors and gossip.”
Another of the Fox News host’s guests, Trump ally Joe diGenova, took a potshot at one of Carlson’s colleagues. Earlier on Smith’s program, Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said that Trump committed a “crime” with his call, prompting diGenova to call the Fox News analyst a “fool.”
And then there was Sean Hannity, who has been described as the White House shadow chief of staff. The Fox News star delivered a lengthy, rambling, at-times incomprehensible, show-opening monologue in which he completely defended the president’s actions while simultaneously raging against the “Deep State.”
After Fox News correspondent Ed Henry reported that one of his sources is saying that the whistleblower has “political bias” against Trump and the transcript of the call won’t show a “smoking gun” but will include some portions that will “raise eyebrows,” Hannity then demanded that Biden share his communications.
“Is Joe Biden going to release his conversations?” Hannity exclaimed. “I would like to demand that Joe Biden now release all of his conversations that he had when he was vice president with Ukraine. Especially now in light of what we learned about Joe Biden.”
The coup de grace, however, was delivered by Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett. The conservative commentator, who has spent the past couple of years railing against the Russia investigation, claimed that it was actually Trump’s legal duty to ask Ukraine to go after Biden.
“The president is duty-bound under the take care clause of the Constitution,” he declared. “If he knows of a particularly corrupt act by a vice president trying to extort a foreign country to shut down a probe that involves his son, the president is duty-bound to ask that foreign country, investigate, produce the evidence, give it to us. If he doesn’t do it, it is a dereliction of his constitutional duty!”
Hannity, meanwhile, was extremely pleased with that response, adding that “the president had a legal responsibility in lieu of the fact that Russia tried to influence our elections.”