Monday, February 5, 2018

Trump, in a panic over dud Nunes' memo, says Adam Schiff 'must be stopped'

Rep. Adam Schiff in interview with Jake Tapper on "State of the Union"
Donald Trump’s tweets at the end of last week were still attempting to push the memo his staff created in collaboration with that of Devin Nunes as if it represented some major reversal of the Russia investigation. But over the weekend, it apparently became clear — even to Trump — that the two reactions to the memo his team spent weeks building up was: “Is that it?” and “What a dud.” The contents not only defined the term “weak,” they showed that Republicans had followed Trump off a cliff, burning a relationship with the FBI that dated back to the agency’s founding. for less than nothing.

On the Sunday talk circuit, even Republicans like Trey Gowdy spent their morning stepping back from the memo and dismissing it’s importance. The whole affair turns out to be nothing but another in a line of embarrassments for Trump, and Nunes, and the party as a whole. Rather than damaging the reputation of the FBI and DOJ, as designed, it showcased the ugliness of Trump’s tactics. Far from “totally vindicating” Trump, the memo acts as a fresh indictment of Trump and Nunes and undercuts any the case they were hoping to make. Far from making it clear that the basis of the investigation was the Steele “dossier,” the memo made it clear that it wasn’t. 

And now comes the part of the story where Donald Trump needs to find someone to blame.

The idea that Schiff has been spreading information from the House Intelligence Committee hearings has been a popular one among Republicans, though they’ve yet to produce any evidence of facts behind these claims. Since Trump’s tweets over the weekend have been limited to praising the team of royal ego soothers on Fox and Friends, it’s likely Trump picked up the idea of attacking Representative Schiff from that source.

But just as the affair of Trump’s memo did turn out to represent a scandal — for Trump, his tweet about Schiff shows who is really the bigger man.

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Naturally, for Trump, what makes Schiff a “liar” is that he says things Trump doesn’t like, such as Schiff’s role in writing a Democratic alternative to the Trump–Nunes dud and helping to get word out in advance that the memo was selling a distorted, dishonest version of actual events. Schiff’s words are “lies” in the same way that news stories showing Trump’s attempts to save himself as the expense of the nation are “fake news.”

That Trump is resorting to calling Schiff “little” demonstrates not only Trump’s pettiness, but showcases the slim pickings in his cabinet of adjectives. Remarking on someone’s height seems to be a go-to Trump response. It doesn’t matter if the opponent is a foreign leader or an opposing candidate, Trump tries to belittle people by “littling” them.” If Trump really thinks that being taller makes him better, Little Donald should have that conversation with the six-foot eight James Comey.

The idea that Schiff “must be stopped” would seem to suggest some level of assault, even violence against Schiff. But Trump might want to think twice about that. Not only has Schiff’s greater visibility over the last year come from his tireless efforts to fight the lies pressed by Trump and Nunes, he also happens to be an accomplished triathlete.

If Trump wants to stop Schiff, he’s going to need a faster golf cart.

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