President Trump has been confronted with a series of false and unfounded conspiracy stories from the same liberal establishment that condemns the QAnon phenomenon, according to an analysis of the president’s nearly four years in office.
The press has lambasted the right-wing mystery persona of QAnon and its internet-driven conspiracy theory that a cabal of Hollywood big shots, Democrats and federal officials is involved in a pedophile ring determined to bring down the president.
The unfounded claims have captured the emotions of some conservatives. Mr. Trump hesitated at a press briefing to criticize the “Q” crowd even after Republican lawmakers roundly condemned its tales.
To be sure, Mr. Trump has stirred up the liberal media by posting inflammatory tweets that bewilder even his conservative backers.
At the same time, anti-QAnon liberals have embraced and promoted scores of false Trump-centric stories and conspiracies. Among the more bizarre are rumors of an international White House-based assassination scheme and a desire to exterminate Hispanics. More personal tales suggest that Mr. Trump has had “mini-strokes” and mental illness.
The Washington Times analyzed the left’s conspiracy culture and compiled a list of 34 items (not all-inclusive) dating back to Mr. Trump’s first day in office. Such stories fed thousands of social media blogs and cable news churn.
The Times’ sources for this list include press stories, transcripts and social media posts.
⦁ Mr. Trump removed a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office, igniting a highly charged racial issue (Time magazine on Inauguration Day).
Not true. The reporter apologized to the White House later that day.
⦁ The day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, the White House bused a “cheering committee” to the CIA for a Trump talk to the workforce (CBS News).
The White House said that of the 400 attendees, only 10 were connected to the White House. None sat in the first row.
⦁ Mr. Trump discussed a classified response to North Korea missile fire during a large dinner gathering at his Mar-a-Lago estate for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The stories were based on a photograph that a diner had posted on Facebook. (New York Times, Feb. 13, 2017; CNN; The Washington Post, et al).
The White House said the press jumped to a “nefarious” conclusion. The president had been briefed in a sensitive compartmented information facility about the missiles before the dinner. The discussion at the table was about press logistics for the next day.
⦁ The new president was responsible for scores of bomb threats phoned to Jewish Community Centers around the country. (Vox.com; CNN: “Trump mentioned the bomb threats in his speech Tuesday, but did not outline a plan to stop them.”)
In March 2017, authorities arrested Israeli teenager Michael Ron David Kadar on charges of making hundreds of hoax bomb threats to Jewish centers in the U.S. and other countries. The threats then stopped.
⦁ Muslim American Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad was detained at Washington Dulles International Airport because of Mr. Trump, who had imposed travel restrictions in January 2017. A Democratic congressman said he was “sickened” by report (The Washington Post; The Hill; USA Today).
She was detained for two hours in December 2016 during the Obama administration.
⦁ The president is mentally ill. “Yes it’s OK to question Trump’s mental health.” (CNN). “Avoiding questions about Trump’s mental health is a betrayal” (Columbia Journalism Review). “Pundits are beginning to question Trump’s Mental Health” (Vanity Fair). “California Democrats lead attack over Trump’s mental health” (Politico).
In January 2018, Mr. Trump’s annual physical included a cognitive test that the White House physician said he aced, 30 for 30. Afterward, some media reports said that result didn’t prove the president was not mentally ill.
⦁ Mr. Trump is a Russian spy, asset or informant (Democratic Party-funded dossier; various Democrats; James R. Clapper, President Obama’s top intelligence officer).
No investigative report has come to such a conclusion.
⦁ U.S. intelligence possesses a large number of intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Kremlin spies going back to the campaign’s beginning (New York Times, February 2017).
The FBI says it has no such material. Former FBI Director James B. Comey said the story was wrong.
⦁ The Trump campaign was in a deep conspiracy with the Kremlin to hack Democratic Party computers and wage information warfare on social media (news media; Democrats; Christopher Steele dossier).
Special counsel Robert Mueller reported that he did not find any evidence of a conspiracy during his 22-month investigation.
⦁ The Steele dossier has not been disproved. (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC; Sen. Diane Feinstein, California Democrat; et al).
FBI lead agent Peter Strzok said the dossier was filled with inaccuracies and disinformation that sent him on “wild goose chases.” The Justice Department inspector general’s report dismissed the dossier as unreliable.
⦁ The Trump Organization maintained a secret dedicated computer server between Trump Tower and Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank, run by three oligarchs (dossier impresario/Democratic Party opposition research firm Fusion GPS; Slate.com).
The FBI concluded there was no such server.
⦁ Trump attorney Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in 2016 to meet with staffers of Russian President Vladimir Putin to hand over cash to pay off hackers (dossier; Fusion GPS; McClatchy news service).
The FBI concluded that no such trip happened.
⦁ Russia has laundered money through the Trump Organization (Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, citing “persistent allegations”).
Cohen, a Trump detractor, told Congress he knows of no Russian money flowing into the organization.
⦁ Russian money bailed out the Trump Organization in the 1980s and 1990s (former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, CNN, May 2019).
No evidence has been publicly presented to support the claim.
⦁ Trump aides and Sen. Jeff Sessions conspired with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. at the Mayflower Hotel, where the presidential candidate delivered a foreign policy speech in April 2016 (NBC News; The Washington Post; The New York Times).
The Mueller report said there was no conspiracy talk at the Mayflower.
⦁ The FBI obtained a wiretap warrant on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, assessing that he was a foreign agent for Russia (CNN).
The FBI said no such warrant was sought.
⦁ Manafort and campaign volunteer Carter Page worked as a team to conspire with the Kremlin (dossier; Fusion GPS).
Investigations have shown that the two did not know or speak with each other.
⦁ Manafort made repeated trips to London to consult with WikiLeaks, which published Democratic emails stolen by Russian hackers (Guardian newspaper, November 2018).
The trips never happened. The Mueller team didn’t even ask Manafort about the issue during hours of interrogation.
⦁ The dossier is true, and the Mueller team corroborated its claims against Mr. Trump and his aides (CNN; CBS News; MSNBC).
⦁ The Kremlin funneled campaign cash to the 2016 Trump campaign through the National Rifle Association (McClatchy news service).
No public evidence supporting this claim has been submitted. The Washington Times first reported that the NRA supplied information to a Senate committee about an outside audit that found no such money trail.
⦁ The Kremlin’s social media propaganda was so successful that it seeded inaccurate mainstream media stories helping candidate Trump (The Washington Post, Nov. 24, 2016). The source was a group of shadowy research firms (one is called PropOrNot) that made unsubstantiated claims against various websites.
The Post attached an editor’s correction note to story. “‘PropOrNot’ has smeared working journalists as agents of the Kremlin while wrapping itself in a cloak of anonymity,” the liberal Nation magazine reported.
⦁ Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, maintained an improper relationship with the Kremlin (numerous press reports).
A secret Jan. 3, 2017, FBI memo, forced into the open by Attorney General William Barr, said agents found no improper contacts during a five-month counterintelligence investigation.
⦁ Flynn had some type of improper relationship with a Russia-born scholar at Cambridge University (The Wall Street Journal; other major U.S. newspapers).
The FBI cleared Flynn. The scholar, Svetlana Lokhova, a British citizen, said she met Flynn once at a dinner honoring the Defense Intelligence Agency director at Cambridge University and never saw him again. In her lawsuit, she blames FBI informant Stefan Halper for the smear.
⦁ Flynn “poss [sic] caught in FSB honeypot w/female Russian intel asset” (Malcolm Nance, MSNBC analyst and retired Navy chief and intelligence expert, April 2017 tweet).
The FBI reported no evidence that Ms. Lokhova is a Russian asset.
⦁ Billed as a “bombshell if true,” Mr. Trump told his attorney, Cohen, to lie to Congress about an aborted Moscow-Trump hotel deal (BuzzFeed).
Mr. Mueller’s office issued a statement rebutting the story.
⦁ 2018 election. “The Russians might this time actually play with the voting totals if there is a wave election and that would throw the entire election into doubt. And would essentially set the pace for civil war and that is what the Russians are looking for. Chaos is their principal weapon system here” (Malcolm Nance, MSNBC).
No evidence made public has supported the claim.
⦁ Mr. Comey was fired by Mr. Trump after he asked for more funds to conduct the Russia election probe (The Washington Post, The New York Times).
Mr. Comey’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told a Senate committee that no such request was made. The Justice Department called the stories “totally false.”
⦁ Mr. Trump talks on an open phone line so that Mr. Putin can listen in (Andrew Weissmann, former Mueller prosecutor/MSNBC analyst).
No evidence has been publicly presented to support the claim.
Assassins and more
⦁ A secret Defense Intelligence Agency report delivered to the White House warned of a coronavirus outbreak in China in November 2019 (ABC News).
The Pentagon says there is no such report.
⦁ Mr. Trump may kill off Hispanics. “He ramped it up again to the invasion, the warning people of the caravan and words like ‘infestation.’ What do you do with an infestation? With an infestation? The natural conclusion is to attempt extermination” ( Raul Reyes, MSNBC contributor, August 2019).
This has not happened.
⦁ White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, delivered to Saudi Arabia a hit-list for assassinations (Rep. Joaquin Castro, Texas Democrat and a member of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, October 2018).
No evidence has been presented to support the claim.
⦁ Mr. Trump is communicating subliminally with neo-Nazis. “These people feel that they are the foot soldiers executors of what the disenfranchisement that the white race is feeling and Donald Trump is giving them subliminal orders in their head” (Malcolm Nance, MSNBC).
⦁ Mr. Trump, a billionaire, has an interest in the French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, which produces a brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine (New York Times).
The president has taken hydroxychloroquine and promoted it as a treatment for COVID-19, as have a number of physicians. Mr. Trump’s “assertiveness” in promoting the drug contrary to the recommendations of top health experts “has raised questions about his motives,” The New York Times said in April.
MarketWatch put Mr. Trump’s investment at less than $1,500; Forbes at less than $3,000.
⦁ Mr. Trump suffered a stroke or “mini strokes” (CNN analyst Joe Lockhart; author Don Winslow).
Mr. Lockhart tweeted Aug. 1: “Did @realDonaldTrump have a stroke which he is hiding from the American public?”
Mr. Winslow tweeted Aug. 1: “One of the benefits of making videos that garner 5 million + views is that you hear from a lot of people, including whistleblowers inside Trump administration. I’ve received three communications saying that during his term Trump has suffered a ‘series’ of ‘mini-strokes.’”
Mr. Trump and his doctor said he did not have any mini-strokes.
The press critic
Besides the president’s railing against the “fake news” industry, the Trump administration’s chief media critic is Mr. Barr. The attorney general calls the liberal media a “collection of liars” for their muted coverage of antifa/Black Lives Matter riots. Conservatives say media ignored the violence and lawbreaking, terming them “mostly peaceful protests.”
Mr. Barr also mocks the Russia-obsessed press for a lack of self-awareness.
“I agree with you that it’s been stunning that all we have gotten from the mainstream media is sort of bovine silence in the face of the complete collapse of the so-called Russiagate scandal, which they did all they could to sensationalize and drive,” Mr. Barr told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo. “And it’s, like, not even a ‘whoops.’ They’re just on to the next false scandal. So, that has been surprising to me: that people aren’t concerned about civil liberties and the integrity of our governmental process.”
He said on the podcast of Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican: “One of the stunning things, I’m sure you’ll agree, is that the media just went hellbent for leather on pushing this Russiagate story that Trump was essentially an agent of Russia. And they were merciless. And up until recently you had former senior government officials sort of talking knowingly about how the president was going to be indicted and so forth and so on.”
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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