The big news breaking on Friday afternoon was that President Donald Trump had a long talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin about various things, including what Trump described in a tweet as the “Russian hoax.”
After years of falling for it, I can’t help thinking this is classic Trump. He’s just trying to get the media—and the Democrats—to take the bait. And, of course, they always do.
Cable news will now breathlessly report on this BREAKING NEWS, panels of former FBI agents and lawyers will be trotted out to discuss the implications, and Democrats (and Never Trumpers) will virtue signal all over again with renewed calls for impeachment.
And then we will all move on in a couple of days when the next big story comes along.
Part of the hook for this news story is that, as the New York Times noted, this was the “first conversation since the release of the special counsel’s report, which found that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.’”
That’s an interesting piece of trivia, but is it really newsworthy or surprising that Trump would phone the president of Russia? I mean, they were bound to talk, eventually.
Is he now never supposed to call the Russian leader, again?
Granted, the fact that a phone call happened might not have been terribly newsworthy, in and of itself. Trump goosed the coverage by tweeting about the “Russian hoax,” and later by admitting to a reporter that, during the call, he did not warn Putin not to interfere in our elections.
Again, catnip for the media and Dems, who will seize on the “hoax” line—because anything that has to do with Mueller must be RATINGS GOLD.
Like clockwork, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted: “The 2020 campaign is already in full swing and Trump just told Putin, the man behind the most serious cyber attack on our democracy ever, that he believes it was all a hoax. Once again, he betrays our national security and for what? Nothing more than his own vanity and delusion.”
I’m not sure what Trump gets out of perpetuating this story, but instead of acting like a lucky guy who dodged a bullet and wants to change the subject from Mueller and Russia, he’s actively reveling in it—finding new and improved ways to entice everyone to remain obsessed over the latest development in what is now a very old controversy.
One theory is that Trump knows the American public, for better or worse, isn’t nearly as obsessed with this story as the media. When Trump says that “getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing,” it sounds like he’s the one exercising common sense.
Another theory is that the Mueller obsession obscures everything else. Interestingly, there is a related Russia angle that isn’t quite as sexy, but is more timely and relevant. Nevertheless, it has been relegated to below-the-fold status to make room for the “hoax” headlines.
On Friday, Trump said that Venezuela was one of the topics he talked with Putin about. “And [Putin] is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way. We want to get some humanitarian aid,” Trump said.
Which makes me wonder if he’s ever heard of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been saying for at least a day now that Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro had a plane standing by and was ready to flee, before Russia told him not to.
The fact that this fresher story is (for now, at least) being relegated to second-tier status tells you all you need to know about the level of Trump Derangement Syndrome and the desire to find a way to prove that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 elections (and extend a ratings-proven storyline).
No matter how many times it fails to move the needle with the American people, the people invested in the WITCH HUNT storyline, as Trump likes to call it, can’t move on, can’t let go. They keep trying to make “fetch” happen.
And Donald Trump keeps trolling the media, phoning the Russians, and (yes) owning the libs.