In Impeachment Trial, Trump’s Conspiracy Theory Presidency Continues

For years, Trump has unleashed a constant stream of false theories in which everyone is conspiring against him. His impeachment defense is no different.
Donald Trump speaks to record crowds at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, IL on November 9th, 2015. (Tommy Jeffers/

Donald Trump speaks to record crowds at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, IL on November 9th, 2015. (Tommy Jeffers/

Let’s go back in time, to what seems like millennia ago when President Donald Trump won the election but lost the popular vote. Unable to accept that the vast areas of red on the electoral map of the nation contained mostly farms, parks, plains, and mountains rather than people, Trump decided there must have been a conspiracy against him. He asserted that the vote was rigged by millions of undocumented immigrants from Mexico being bussed to the polls by the Democratic Party, and an entire army of right-wing grifters and propagandists flooded the web with random tweets and screenshots of Latinos on buses claiming to support his assertion.

Trump even created an official panel to investigate this travesty and get to the bottom of supposedly pervasive voter fraud in America to the cheers of his base, who were also convinced that the only reason their idol failed to win in a popular landslide was the product of some dark conspiracy to destroy the country they love. (It’s a common theme for Trump supporters after all.) They demanded extensive voter registration records, bullied local officials, and tried to prove their case even after being told to do unspeakable things to themselves by dozens of attorney generals across the country in responses on official statehouse letterheads.

Unsurprisingly, the panel didn’t just fail in its mission, but completely embarrassed itself and everyone involved, shutting down after finding exactly zero evidence for any of their assertions. In fact, as an almost karmic slap to the face, the relevant authorities discovered that the only Mexican national to cast his vote in the last presidential election actually voted for Trump, as did all but one of the handful of other voters who broke the law. And if you think about what Trump was actually alleging, combined with the panic among Republicans he caused by claiming that his loss would mean elections are rigged, the lack of proof would make perfect sense.

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His popular vote deficit largely came from California, which was a state he was guaranteed to lose. What he was actually claiming is that Democrats would be brazen enough to bus several million fraudulent voters to the polls even though local authorities are able to catch a single vote violation within hours, and also forgot that the Electoral College was a thing, so instead of taking them to Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to secure the election, they ran up the numbers in a very safe blue state. Like a toddler who claims that a thief broke into the house, took nothing of value, only wet in his bed and left, Trump expected us to swallow an insipid, last-second excuse.

Of course, having his claims not just debunked, but completely obliterated didn’t stop Trump from later lying that California admitted it had a million illegal votes in 2016, then once again claiming that the popular vote was rigged at a rally, earning a rebuke from the Federal Election Commission. But it’s not like anyone in Trumpland actually cares about whether what they’re saying is true or not. Their only goal is to manufacture excuses for their failures in governance, at the polls, and to cover up for their unethical and illegal actions, and there’s always someone to blame in one brain-meltingly insipid conspiracy after another.

Take the two conspiracy theories Trump’s defenders offered after his impeachment and during the trial — which for all intents and purposes is Republicans who swore an oath of fealty to him going through the motions before acquitting him by a party-line vote. The first is that Hillary Clinton threw the election with the help of Russian hackers so the Democrats could impeach Trump. The second is that then-Vice President Joe Biden’s insistence on removing the Ukranian equivalent to the Attorney General Viktor Shokin shows corrupt intent because at the time, his son Hunter was on the board of one of the companies Shokin refused to investigate.

So, just to reiterate, according to the heady logic of Trumpland’s finest minds, Clinton rigged the election to lose on purpose so her party could impeach someone whose access to power she would’ve ostensibly had the ability to block in the first place, and Biden pushed to replace a hideously, obnoxiously corrupt general prosecutor with someone who would be willing to open investigations into companies like the one that hired his son because he’s corrupt and was trying to protect his child from prosecutors.

Right now, there’s a lazy Hollywood hack trying to piece together some sort of “twist ending” for the climactic scene of his screenplay at a Starbucks in Studio City looking over these plot lines in a notebook and shaking his head while muttering “no, that’s stupid, I should just stick to the cult of Satanic baby-eating pedophiles who meet in pizzeria basements.”

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Just consider for a minute that you’re in Hillary Clinton’s position in November of 2016 and have, according to Trump, millions of guaranteed voters you can move around the country. Do you go through the trouble of throwing an election so years later, your party can impeach the old angry orange guy who used to pretend to fire people on a TV show, or do you just crush him along the states known as your Blue Wall, win, and get on with the business of governing? If your ultimate goal is to govern a country, what good does it do for you to throw an election you can apparently rig in your favor for a ridiculous drama with little chance of success years down the line?

This notion makes Trump’s original voter fraud claim even dumber because it would mean that the millions of illegal votes he insists were cast, were cast in the wrong state on purpose, to force him to win. Why, if the goal is to keep power out of his hands? Just use those resources to win! Sure, Trump would cry that the vote was rigged, his superfans would believe him, but as no evidence will be found, the only ones talking about it would in a month be grifters whose proof of illegal voting will boil down to “I saw a brown person allowed in a voting booth, so obviously that was voter fraud.”

Likewise, imagine yourself in Joe Biden’s shoes. Your son Hunter was hired by Burisma, a very sketchy company in a part of the world where corruption reigns supreme. You’re serving as the Vice President of a superpower negotiating to provide aid in exchange for reforms and so you’re going to use your political sway and capital to replace a government official who almost openly takes bribes in cash and diamonds, and refuses to investigate Burisma and other companies like it with one who will because… you’re corrupt and trying to protect your son? How does that possibly work?

It’s like a dirty cop trying to protect a mob boss for whom he works by making sure the case detective who’s also on the take from him gets fired and a clean one is assigned in his place. The Trumpland conspiracy theory on this is basically an Opposite Land version of events repeated ad nauseam with the hope that using the words “globalists” and “corruption” enough times will work like some sort of magic incantation and turn a prosecutor who, again, was famous for being one of the most corrupt and easily bought off officials in Ukraine into one of the good guys.

And speaking of Ukraine, remember when according to Trump, it was the country that hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers and got a backup of deleted Clinton emails with which he was so obsessed during the campaign? The ones he sent multiple surrogates to attempt to retrieve from the web’s dark corners, and asked Russia to kindly get for him on TV? That’s another beauty, to borrow one of his favorite insults.

Why would a country being slowly and painfully conquered by Russia undermine a candidate involved in slapping painful sanctions on its invader, then try to sell dirt to the campaign of a man who kept talking about how much he admired Russia and its President/Chief Puppet Master Putin to make him look bad instead of just not undermining their preferred candidate in the first place? It would be an insanely harebrained risk with an uncertain payoff, and according to all the polls at the time, Clinton had the election in the bag. Why mess with what looked like a sure thing in such a dangerous, roundabout way?

Shouldn’t the first rule of a conspiracy theory be that the conspiracy, if properly executed, should be in the actual benefit of those who come up with it? Yes, it’s true Trump and his toadies don’t care one bit about that. In their all-encompassing narcissism, the only possible consideration of all those doing the conspiring is whether what they’re doing will hurt or help Trump. Of course, it’s far more likely all of this is just a ploy to get journalists lacking critical thinking and research skills to launder a steady stream of rejected third rate comic book villain evil plots we’re told to pretend actually happened. And maybe along the way, after drinking enough of their Kool-Aid, Trump and his followers wholeheartedly began to believe in their own alternative reality.

Sadly, it seems to be working, as reporters who, for some bizarre reason believe their job is to be scribes for those in power, even when they’re spewing complete batshit lunacy, are dutifully trying to connect imaginary dots being presented to them. And that’s the really sad part here because so many pundits in the media either can’t understand that they’re giving paranoid and corrupt lunatics a pass with their bothsideism, or know exactly what’s happening but are too afraid of a shrieking Trump sycophant paid by their network to push back.

Conspiracy theories emanating from politicians are the grownup version of “the dog ate my homework” and it seems that the Trump administration and those who bent the knee to it are constantly harassed by an entire species of hounds whose diet consists entirely of the GOP’s utopian bills, explanatory notes, and perfect phone call transcripts. (One can only assume the malicious canines in question were bred by crossing mastiffs with office paper shredders in a secret California lab run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff.)

In their constant game of clusterfuck parkour, Trumpland spits out a non-stop stream of conspiracy theories in which everyone from Democrats, to Jews, to NATO, to Satanists, to China, to minorities, to John Bolton — the bureaucrat too Republican for many Republicans in the George W. Bush cabinet — are colluding in increasingly convoluted ways to undermine all their amazing plans to turn America into a land of milk and honey, plans they’d explain to you if they didn’t leave them in their other pants.

Why? Because the alternative is to admit that in their quest to turn elections into a sad sham, the GOP paved the way for some of America’s worst, most paranoid, ignorant, amoral, and bigoted citizens to get swept into power, and they have no clue what they’re doing so they look for easy scapegoats when they predictably fail.

Really, one can write an entire book of takedowns of the many crazy things Trumpland’s inhabitants spew daily, but that’s not the point here. What we need to highlight is that to justify their grasp on power through increasingly tenuous means and a reliance on fear-mongering and a salad of patriotic buzzwords to get out their steadily dwindling votes, the things coming out of Republican politicians’ mouths are becoming ever more servile, absurd, and paranoid. And maybe the words of elders with a questionable grasp on reality need to be manifested as holy writ by the media and elected officials in a Second World banana republic, but not in a first-world superpower that holds its leaders to account. And we still live in such a first-world superpower, right?

Opinion // Conspiracy Theories / Donald Trump / Republican Party