History will show that there were many stages and participants (willing and unwilling) to this coup. Some we know now and some we don’t. That will all be flushed out later.
But right now, we are likely in the third and last act.
Last week Trump just gave Barr the ability to declassify intelligence at will. He will do this under the pretense of investigating how the Trump investigation started. Something, it should be noted, is already being done by others and was documented in the Mueller report which begs the question as to why Trump would take such an unprecedented action.
But if you watched how Barr handled the release of the Mueller investigation, it should be clear by now that Barr demonstrated a willingness to misrepresent the facts to please Trump and control the narrative. He did not present the findings as they were given to him AND instead presented them in a very specific way that allowed conservative media and others to get great clips that could be repeated over and over to control the narrative that they would give to their viewers. This reflects a good understanding of media manipulation and a willingness to do it. It does not reflect recklessness — he did it with surgical precision.
Think of this as the test run. It demonstrated not only the skills Trump needs but also the desire and willingness to do it.
And Barr passed with flying colors.
After Trump told everyone what he expected the Mueller findings, Barr largely repeated them and he did it knowing that most of the report would be made public later.
After this incident, we should not be surprised that Trump specifically wants Barr to lead an investigation into what happen in 2016.
We should also not be surprised when Barr confirms Trump’s statements.
But there are significant differences though between the Mueller report and what is happening now:
- Barr knew that when he made the misleading statements before that the full report would be released. That he still willingly twisted it to meet the demands of the President speaks to his willingness to misrepresent the facts regardless of the truth or personal consequences. Now, with the current “investigation”, he will not face any informed opposition. He will selectively declassify information or portions of it to paint the picture that he (Trump) wants in an effort to the make the case.
- And Trump made that picture very clear after giving Barr the unprecedented power. Trump accused his political enemies, some by name, of treason. These comments were effectively giving Barr his marching orders. And to be clear, a mob boss does not need to tell someone specifically to kill a person and drop his body in the river. A mob boss will just say “it would be a shame if he ended up floating in the river”. Everyone understands what they are supposed to do. Trump did this with Mueller. Barr complied. Trump just did it again and gave Barr the weapons. We should expect nothing less. That he did it publicly just means now that everyone knows what he wants. This will encourage some people to help Barr either because they want to support him or because they are afraid of the consequences if they don’t.
All of this said, we can also not ignore media and it’s impact. Trump and Barr would not get away with this if minds were not already influenced by media. Fox News (Hannity, Ingraham), QNON, and 8CHAN people already think that the people Trump mentioned are guilty. They have been running a campaign about wrong doing and some are seriously pissed that these people (FBI, Obama and Clinton) have not been hung from the nearest flag pole already. Hannity at Fox ramped this up in the Fall of 2017. He needed something else to follow because he could not just overlook all the Mueller findings by saying “fake news”. After about 8 months into the Presidency, it was getting tough. Enter the campaign to attack the investigators. It has been a progression ever since. QNON and 8CHAN have been at it too.
So, instead of being discredited, Barr’s statement will be the “justice” they have been seeking. It will be what they “knew all along”. They are waiting impatiently. Oh, it should be noted that, whenever Barr releases his statement, they are going to not just expect aggressive action — they are going to demand it.
But to understand how horrible this is, we need to look at how this will happen:
- I think we can expect Barr, based on how he handled Mueller, to selectively take intelligence and report it in a damning way without giving the context of the report. The context and actual intelligence will be withheld from the people because of secrecy. It is a perfect asymmetrical battle and could not destroy a system more quickly.
- His “findings” will confirm that Trump said and the Hannity/Ingraham/ QNON/8CHAN people already believe. They will demanding heads. I also need to add Robertson and Graham evangelicals. They will be demanding punitive action because they think that they are fighting for the future of our country and have perpetuated many of Trump’s statements. Most of the people in these groups are already primed to fight.
- This is going to be the last shoe that drops and the point of no return. If Trump does not move to punish them harshly (supported by his DOJ), there will be an outcry from the people mentioned earlier. If he does, we will have turned into a dictatorship where political differences are criminalized.
This is the end of the democracy.
And here is the worst part. There seems to be no good path to see how he will be stopped if he moves, with his DOJ, to prosecute them. The courts can try to stop him but they have also stacked the courts and the SC may also fall. But even if the courts don’t fall, what can courts do when the executive branch does not yield to them? Not much. They do not have robust enforcement mechanisms. Congress may be able to help the judiciary but will the Senate turn on Trump if he is grabbing for power? They have been willing to go along with a less powerful Trump — to think that they would suddenly revolt when he is even more powerful is some magical thinking.
Trump has said that there was a coup and he has been known to accuse others of what he is doing. Well, folks, we have a coup on our hands. The clock is ticking.
It does not look good. That corporate money is supporting Trump should not be surprising. Democracies are a lot more expensive to deal with than authoritarians government when you control the authoritarian. That said, the opposition is not nearly so well financed but there needs to be a strategy to combat this — a way to slow this down if not get out in front of it. It is late. The only question is: is it too late?