A New Year’s Message from the Anti-Gaslighting League

Let's clear up some Trumpist misconceptions.

TWENTY-NINETEEN has been the Year of the Gaslighter. We have been besieged from all sides by disinformation, by straight-up lies, and told not to believe our lyin’ eyes. During the (still ongoing!) impeachment inquiry, the House Republicans insisted upon an alternative reality, complete with alternative facts, alternative math, alternative history, and, in the case of Jim Jordan, alternative dress code. Devin Nunes and his comrades, I wrote, had gone full 1984:

“IN THE END,” wrote George Orwell in 1984, “the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.”

It took 35 years longer than Orwell predicted, but here we are. The Grand Old Party has become the George Orwell Party. Because the reality of their current situation is damning and treasonous, Donald Trump and his minions have resorted to attacking reality.

It’s not just the Trumpists who do this, by the way. There is a faction of Bernie Sanders supporters that insists upon a reality where their Great Leader was never a deadbeat dad, did not write about how women fantasize about being gang-raped, has had the greatest legislative record in the history of Congress, is the only candidate who actually cares about the American people, was unaffected by the heart attack, is 78 years old in Baby Yoda years, and so on, despite these things being demonstrably untrue.

Gaslighting is an effective technique. Even if we know we are right, the repetition of Big Lies can, at the very least, exhaust us our critical thinking capacity—which is the point. With that in mind, I thought it apt that the final post of 2019 should clear up some misconceptions concerning Donald John Trump, so we can kick off the New Year with a bang:

—Donald John Trump’s eldest son, also named Donald John Trump, met at Trump Tower on 9 June 2016 with a Russian spy. This spy had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. That’s why Donald John Trump—the “failson,” in Molly Jong Fast’s spot-on phrase—agreed to meet with the spy. Also at that meeting were Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his mobbed-up campaign chair, the traitor Paul Manafort, who is currently in the hoosegow. That was, like, highly illegal.

—Right after that meeting—I mean minutes after—Donald John Trump tweeted about the “missing emails” for the first time. The timing here is not a coincidence. “Missing emails” was a narrative that continued until Election Day.

—Despite the fact that Donald John Trump’s eldest son, also named Donald John Trump, has accomplished almost nothing in his life without his father’s approval, endorsement, or aid, and despite the uncanny timing of the first “missing emails” tweet, we are expected to believe that Donald John Trump, Senior was unaware of the meeting arranged by Donald John Trump, Junior with the Russian spy.

—When “missing emails” compelled the FBI to look through emails on a neglected laptop, FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo to Congress explaining his decision, and that memo—and the “missing emails” talking point—helped give Trump the White House.

—Julian Assange is not a journalist. He is a tool of Russian intelligence. WikiLeaks is not a journalistic organization. It is a means by which Russian intelligence leaks information.

—When the New York Times found out about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian spy, an enraged Donald John Trump, Senior tried to quash it. He met with his aides, among them Hope Hicks, and crafted a story to attempt to clear the younger Donald John Trump. This obstruction of justice did not work. But it was highly illegal.

—Hope Hicks would make a dandy witness at a public hearing…like, say, an impeachment trial in the Senate. Or an impeachment inquiry, after the redacted Mueller Report materials were turned over to HPSCI.

—Donald John Trump the Younger was not indicted by Mueller because Mueller decided that he was too stupid to understand that he had violated the law. Stupidity is not actually a valid reason to let someone off on a little light treason, but if anyone was going to be stupid enough to get off on stupidity, it would be the very stupid Donald John Trump the Younger.

—Donald John Trump the Elder has made a concerted effort to poo-poo the Mueller Report—especially its unequivocal conclusion, echoed by the collective intelligence community of the United States, that Russia sabotaged the 2016 election. Donald John Trump would like us to believe that Ukraine, not Russia, was behind the plot. He wants us all to think this so he can justify lifting sanctions on Putin’s oligarch comrades, which is his prime directive.

—The Russians were trying to prevent Hillary Clinton, who rightly views Putin as a minor KGB thug and thief, from becoming president. To do so, Moscow bent over backwards to help Donald John Trump, their compromised asset. They also gave aid to Bernie Sanders, who admitted he knew about the amplification of his social media presence by Russian bots but didn’t do anything about it for reasons we still don’t understand. Something about breaking up the banks, maybe?

—Many if not most of the Republicans in Congress are compromised in some fundamental way by Trump and/or the Russians, most notably Rand Paul, whom John McCain accused of working for Putin; Lindsey Graham, who is effectively Trump’s hostage; Ted Cruz, who has done a 180 on despite Trump attacking his family; as well as the yowling MAGA baboons in the House—Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, and so on.

—Donald John Trump really does launder money for the Russian mob. He really has been doing it for years. Evidence of his shady dealings are in his tax documents—another mechanism by which he, like his mobster confederates, steals from the government—that is, from you and me. This is why he has moved heaven and earth to prevent us from reviewing those documents. If there was anything in there that was—what’s the word? Oh, right…EXCULPATORY—he would have released them by now.

—Donald John Trump really did extort an ally in the fight against Putin, threatening to withhold our money, if that ally didn’t help him harm a political rival. Extortion, quid pro quo, bribery—whatever word you want to us, he did it, and it’s illegal, despite what your MAGA uncle told you at Thanksgiving.

—The extortion of Ukraine is not “business as usual.” It’s not something done “all the time.” Extorting Ukraine to help Trump—and thereby help Russia—is tantamount to treason. In 250 years, few Americans have attempted something so brazenly seditious. Those who have were hung. Perhaps this is why Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, and Rick Perry are not so keen on testifying?

—The question is not “Is Donald John Trump guilty?” The question is, “Do the brazenly seditious high crimes of Donald John Trump warrant capital punishment?” That is the only argument patriotic Americans should be having right now.

Tomorrow, the Roaring Twenties begin again. Let 2020 be the Year of Reckoning. I can picture Justice, blindfolded with her scales, belting out Katy Perry:

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
Cuz I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

Happy New Year, Dear Reader. We shall prevail!

Photo: Still shot from the film All the President’s Men (1976).