Donald Trump is hoping for a terrorist attack inside the United States so voters will rally around Republicans and help them win the 2018 midterm elections, a controversial new report claims.
The claims originate from a story published this week in the Washington Post about the consternation Republicans are feeling headed toward the midterm elections this November. Democrats are expected to make significant gains and could end up in control of both the House and Senate, riding a wave of anti-Trump sentiment into creating a coalition that will block him from enacting legislation.
The report noted that Trump has been openly discussing the possibility that a terrorist attack could turn the tide back to Republicans. The report made it sound as if Trump were almost optimistic about the possibility.
“In private conversations, Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said.”
Though the report did not explicitly say that Donald Trump was hoping for a terrorist attack, one viral story interpreted his alleged statements that way. Vox published its own report based on the Washington Post’s story, opening with the rhetorical question “Is Donald Trump hoping foreign terrorists attack the United States?”
Writer Matt Yglesias went on to speculate that Trump’s desire for a terrorist attack could mean he has no concern for the safety of the United States.
“If Trump thinks a terrorist attack would serve his political interests — either through a blind rally-’round-the-flag effect or by specifically validating anti-immigrant demagoguery or what have you — how hard is he really working to keep the country safe?” Yglesias wrote.
Trump’s plan to win the midterms is really scary https://t.co/yUC4btc1LF
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 17, 2018
But that report — and the interpretation that Donald Trump is actually hoping for a terrorist attack — has itself come under fire. The Daily Caller termed the story from Yglesias as a “wild assertion,” and Dartmouth University political science professor Brendan Nyhan said his interpretation of the report was misleading.
This is misleading – an elliptical reference to Trump saying Bush did better than expected in 2002 is transformed into "a terrifying plan" to win the 2018 midterms by capitalizing on terrorism. That claim is just not clearly supported by the underlying text. https://t.co/KHzZnnq0Du
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) January 17, 2018
The report claiming that Donald Trump is hoping for a terrorist attack also hits at one of the major planks of Trump’s platform and the largest remaining chunk of his popularity. Trump has sold himself as being tough on terrorism, and his highest approval marks continue to come on his handling of the war against ISIS, CNN noted. For his part, Trump has not commented on the reports that he may be hoping for a terrorist attack inside the United States.