Good morning Austin:
Last Monday in First Reading I wrote about the effort by local members of what I will call the popular resistance to Trump – here and across the nation – organizing to try to call their local members of Congress to account for their enabling of President Trump.
So, I think an important national story in the coming week will be conflict at town hall meetings, avoidance of town hall meetings, the politics of town hall meetings, and who is behind all the fuss over town hall meetings.
And, I believe that before the week is over, President Trump will interject himself into that conversation, and that he will blame it on Barack Obama.
Why do I say that?
Because last Thursday, even as Trump was delivering the press conference to end all press conferences, that was what Austin’s own Alex Jones was saying on Infowars in a conversation with New York Post columnist Paul Sperry, and generally speaking, Trump adopts Jones’ frame on these sorts of issues.
I quote the Jones-Sperry exchange at great length because, the experience of the last year has taught me that, with Trump, what happens on Infowars doesn’t stay on Infowars.
Well, last night, just under the “before-the-week-is-over” wire, came this.
From the Washington Post: Trump says Obama is helping to organize protests against his presidency.
By way of background, here is a quick snatch from that earlier First Reading in which I recounted Alex Jones’ interview with Paul Sperry, whose New York Post columns are the source material for the Obama-is-behind-the-resistance narrative.
PAUL SPERRY: But I’m afraid if Trump doesn’t get out in front of this, and call it for what it is, actually directly call Obama out. Forget about Hillary, Hillary’s gone. His main concern right now is Obama. I mean the guy’s set up a bunker down the street from the White House..He’s got a mansion. He’s got an office. OFA, the Obama Foundation he’s setting up. He’s got his own chief of staff, press secretary. He’s setting up his own shadow White House, just within two miles of the White House .. This is something on the order of a civil war here.
He’s really gearing up over the next year or two to creating a huge, really well-funded, organizing and protesting infrastructure, that’s going to constantly go after and attack Republicans and this new administration.
ALEX JONES: Looking at this, studying history, I’ve not seen anything like this in U.S. history, I mean maybe the Civil War, like you say, has parallels, but this is a civil war by elements of the government, and bureaucracies and foreign governments, against the president, who is so clearly a populist, clearly Americana, going up in the polls. And I agree with you, at a gut level I am more concerned about this than anything I’ve seen in 20 years on air. They mean business, and I don’t disagree that they want to build this up over the next few years, but it appears they are making moves right now to try to topple the president.
PAUL SPERRY: Yeah, Trump and Republicans don’t know what they’re up against. I”m mean there’s no other precedent for this. No other president has stayed behind in president, at least not in 100 years, not since Woodrow Wilson.
ALEX JONES: And what’s scarier is you are the only one pointing it out.
PAUL SPERRY: Well, finally people are calling it for what it is, all these protests. This is a shadow government that’s behind it. But this needs to get into the mainstream media, but of course the media is behind the protests, so every time they get a video feed from one of these marches or protests, they play it over and over again to make it seem like this is this big grassroots revolt against Trump, but of course it’s not. I’s just artificially manufactured Astro Turf.
But no other former president has actively undermined a sitting president. Obama actually did that with the immigration ban on the terror-prone Muslims.
ALEX JONES: He also encouraged all these demonstrations, he says – you had it in your article – “heartening.”
It turns out that Sperry’s and Jones’ assertions about Obama’s role as Godfather of the Resistance, were relatively mild compared with what confronted me as I stood in the checkout line at my local HEB grocery store at the end of last week.
There it was, on the front page of the National Enquirer, sandwiched between “Julie Roberts Packs on 43 LBS! – as marriage crumbles” and “Beyoncé: Twins, Trapped & Alone.”
OBAMA’S SECRET PLOT TO IMPEACH TRUMP!”
The exclamation point lede is especially good:
Treasonous puppet master Barack Obama is pulling the strings on a coordinated conspiracy across multiple federal agencies to sabotage the Trump administration – and impeach President Donald Trump before he can make America great again!
Read on, as the anonymous source lays it out.
That’s the bombshell claim of a left-leaning whistle-blower who stepped out of the Beltway shadows to meet with the National ENQUIRER – after a crisis of conscience motivated him to expose the revolt.
These acts of defiance when viewed apart, may seem independently accomplished, but that’s precisely how they’re intended to be seen,” said the insider.
The Obama-directed conspiracy got its start when officials from at least seven federal agencies met on two occasions after the election, according to THE ENQUIRER whistle-blower.
“Obama was not present – but it was made clear his agenda and orders were to be carried out,” claimed the source.
“He is the tarantula at the center of this web of insubordination. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are just doing his bidding.”
According to the D.C. turncoat, the revolt is intended to climax in impeachment proceedings against Trump, using the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.
Under that provision, “the Vice President and a majority of … the principal officers of he executive departments” can deem the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
In that case, the vice president steps in as “Acting President.”
“It could ignite a constitutional crisis!” said he source “They intend to so isolate President Trump that the impeachment will go forward. Then amid the chaos, Obama’s stooges will work to change existing law so he can run for a third term in 2020!”
Just to make sure you’re following the sequence here, Obama is directing a conspiracy, which will include Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s Cabinet, to remove Trump from office and “amid the chaos” set the stage for Obama’s third term.
Does Pence get to stay on as veep?
Which brings us to yesterday’s “Fox & Friends” interview with Trump, which was previewed last night and then played in several installments this morning.
My guess is that Trump, either because of his own inquiring mind or a text from Roger Stone, already knew the “Obama is behind it” frame from his favored news sources – the New York Post, Infowars and the Enquirer.
(Note: At a press conference the day after his nomination for president, Trump defended the Enquirer’s front-page story linking Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, to Lee Harvey Oswald before the JFK assassination. Said Trump: “This was a magazine that, in many respects, is respected. They got OJ, (John) Edwards, they got this. If that was The New York Times, they would have gotten Pulitzers for their reporting. I’ve always said, ‘Why didn’t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer surprise for Edwards? And OJ Simpson? And all of these things?”)
But Trump didn’t have to bring up Obama’s stealth agenda, because his Fox friends at “Fox & Friends” did so in yesterday’s interview.
FOX: Can we talk about President Obama? You’ve said you personally get along with him. You guys were going at it for three or four, maybe eight years. It turns out his people are doing a lot of the organizing behind the protest that a lot of Republicans are seeing around the country, and against you.
Do you believe President Obama is behind it and, if he is, is that a violation of the so-called unsaid president’s code?
TRUMP: No, I think he is behind it. I also think it is politics, that’s the way it is.’
FOX: Bush wasn’t going after Clinton. Clinton wasn’t going after Bush.
TRUMP: You never know what’s exactly happening behind the scenes. You know, you’re probably right or possibly right, but you never know.
No, I think that President Obama is behind it because his people are certainly behind it. And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, some of the leaks, which are really serious because they are very bad in terms of national security.
But I also understand that is politics. In terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. And it will probably continue.
All in all, for Trump, that’s a very low-key response. On one hand, there may be no real evidence that Obama is “behind” the protests and the leaks. On the other hand, Trump didn’t seize the Fox question and use it to portray Obama as the treasonous puppet master, or even offer a classic paralliptical, Trumpian, I’m not saying he’s masterminding a coup from his bunker in Washington, just saying that I have heard people call him a treasonous puppet master, but I’m not saying that.
As for the so-called unsaid president’s code?
From Peter Baker in today’s New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush implicitly criticized President Trump on Monday, taking issue with his approach to immigration and the news media, and suggested that any ties between the new president’s team and Russia should be investigated.
But, he did accept the “Obama is behind it,” frame, even if he passed it off as politics as usual … for now.
In a television interview to promote a new book of his paintings, Mr. Bush indicated that important questions were raised by reported contacts between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s associates during last year’s election campaign. Mr. Trump forced out his national security adviser for withholding information about a call with Russia’s ambassador.
“I think we all need answers,” Mr. Bush said on the “Today” show on NBC. He said he would defer to Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, about how such an investigation should be conducted. He is a “really good guy, and an independent thinker,” Mr. Bush said of Mr. Burr, “and if he were to recommend a special prosecutor, then it would have a lot more credibility with me.”
Like other members of his family, Mr. Bush did not support Mr. Trump during last year’s campaign against Hillary Clinton, although in public he largely kept his views to himself. Mr. Bush congratulated Mr. Trump after his victory and attended the inauguration last month, but the interview on Monday made clear that the most recent Republican president still had serious disagreements with his party’s incumbent commander in chief.
Although he did not mention Mr. Trump by name, Mr. Bush expressed disapproval of the president’s assertion that “fake news media” organizations are the “enemy of the American people.”
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Mr. Bush told Matt Lauer, the “Today” host. “We need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
He seemed to suggest that language like Mr. Trump’s made it more difficult to press authoritarian leaders like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to tolerate a free press. “It’s kind of hard to, you know, tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves,” he said.
I await Alex Jones’ response.