The week in Trumpworld: ‘Truth isn’t truth’
WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani, meet George Orwell.
The former New York City mayor, GOP President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, shocked NBC News questioner Chuck Todd with a statement that could fit right into Orwell’s famous book, 1984.
“Truth isn’t truth,” Giuliani told a startled Todd in a convoluted explanation about why Trump may not submit to questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose team is probing conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction of justice by Trump and his people in the 2016 presidential election.
In Orwell’s dictatorial state, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength,” among other characteristics.
“And Big Brother is watching you,” Orwell added.
So welcome to the latest weird week in Trumpworld, otherwise known as the White House and Trump’s past presidential campaign.
The 74-year-old Giuliani’s bizarre statement on Meet The Press ended a week in which Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, faced a jury in Alexandria, Va., deliberating on whether Manafort broke federal laws in his own, non-campaign, deals and political consultancies with Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs. Jurors resumed deliberations on August 20, their third day.
Manafort’s attorneys called no witnesses — not even Manafort himself — in the case. Justice Department prosecutors put Manafort’s former deputy campaign manager and top aide on the stand, plus auditors testifying about hundreds of pages of documents revealing Manafort’s multi-million-dollar dealings.
Manafort’s pre- and post-campaign financial finagling were exposed in the first trial Manafort faces as a result of evidence Mueller collected. A second Manafort trial, expected to cover the time he ran Trump’s 2016 drive, is tentatively scheduled to open in Washington next month.
As for “Big Brother,” Trump pulled a dictator-like stunt by revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who has scathingly criticized the president. That led 120 former top intelligence and military officials — from the CIA, the FBI and elsewhere — to hit back in defense of Brennan, even if they don’t agree with his tone or his statements. But they hate the retribution.
Their open letter said Trump “was attempting to stifle free speech.” In a Washington Post op-ed, one, retired Admiral William McRaven, dared Trump to pull his clearance, too. McLaren oversaw the Navy Seals’ operation that killed Osama bin Laden. And Brennan got into the act, too, also talking with Todd about Trump on Meet The Press.
“Well I called his behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust, and to aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim,” Brennan said when Todd asked him about the security clearance.
Things have gotten so weird that a man who should know something about singing to prosecutors, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, predicted Trump White House Counsel Dan McGahn would tell the truth to Mueller’s team, just as Dean did to the Watergate prosecutors 44 years ago.
Nixon had expected him to lie, Dean said. After all, Dean did so before. In one notable case, Nixon said Dean produced a report exonerating the president and his aides on Watergate. The report was a mirage.
But Dean, now 79, didn’t lie before the Senate Watergate Committee or the special prosecutors. His testimony, corroborated by the White House taping system, brought down Nixon. (Did we mention that now-fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman taped her talks with Trump and his aides, too? Those are the talks where Trump used the n-word, she said. Manigault is African-American.)
Dean based his prediction about McGahn on the 30 hours of questioning by Mueller. One headline called McGahn “an undercover operative” in Trump’s White House. McGahn may not be lying, either. But Mueller’s team isn’t talking. It’s weighing evidence, from McGahn and others, behind closed doors.
Giuliani is talking, bizarrely.
“When you tell me that, you know, he (Trump) should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Giuliani told Todd.
“Truth is truth,” Todd responded.
“No, no, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani said. “Truth isn’t truth. The president of the United States says, “I didn’t …”
“Truth isn’t truth?” Todd broke in.
Giuliani: “No, no, no.”
Todd: “This is going to become a bad meme.”
“Nothing is more corrosive to democracy than the idea that there is no such thing as facts or the truth,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., top Democrat on the politically polarized House Select Intelligence Committee, said in a fundraising letter for other Democrats.
“Convincing the public they cannot believe what they see with their own eyes or what they learn from a free press is what authoritarian rulers around the world try to persuade their people,” Schiff continued. “And no one has told more falsehoods than the president himself. No wonder he views a free press as the enemy, and why we must protect the 1st Amendment at all costs.”
There is one more strange twist to record: In an early AM tweet on August 19, Trump compared Mueller to 1950s red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis.: “Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!” Note for the record that Trump’s first New York lawyer was McCarthy’s top aide, Roy Cohn.
But the author of a definitive book on McCarthy, historian Richard Rovere, provided a description of the senator, his character and his tactics, to Politico magazine that sounds very…well, like Trump.
Rovere called McCarthy “a chronic opportunist” and “a political speculator.” McCarthy was “a fertile innovator, a first-rate organizer and galvanizer of mobs, a skilled manipulator of public opinion, and something like a genius at that essential American strategy: Publicity.” And, given McCarthy’s rants about unproven and non-existent Communist conspiracies in the federal government, the senator had “an almost aesthetic preference for untruth,” Rovere said.
“The haters rallied around him,” Rovere concluded about McCarthy, an alcoholic demagogue.
It should be noted, again for the record, that Trump doesn’t drink.
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