On a near-daily basis, President Donald Trump complains about the Russia investigation being headed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Sometimes he complains that it has Democratic-aligned investigators involved, and other times he suggests it’s gone on for way too long.
Most often, he resorts to calling the entire thing a “witch hunt” against him.
The phrase has a very storied history, according to reporting from Vox, but Trump uses it in a way that is similar in nature to his use of the term “fake news.” When the president complains about news he says is fake, more often then not his actual complaint is with news that’s based in reality — news that he simply doesn’t like.
We should take the same approach to Trump’s use of the term “witch hunt” as well, from this point going forward. It’s no longer a matter of opinion any longer whether the investigation is finding people in the president’s inner-circle, past or present, that committed crimes or acted inappropriately. And any time he uses the term in the future, our immediate reaction should be that Trump is merely “boo-hooing” about the investigation getting closer to him — rather than making a valid protestation about the inquiry’s legitimacy.
Like a witch hunt, if witches were real. https://t.co/U7CqbBXtoI
— David Roberts (@drvox) December 12, 2018
It’s not as if this investigation is yielding just one or two individuals who are committing small crimes outside of Trump’s purview, either. According to the New York Times, Mueller has made dozens of indictments, and secured a handful of plea deals from various Trump associates — including his former “fixer” lawyer Michael Cohen, and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The court documents the public has been made privy to have also implicated Trump in wrongdoings, and has made him appear to be a central figure in the Russia inquiry, per reporting from the Washington Post. Imagine what Mueller, who typically keeps things close to the vest to begin with, hasn’t yet divulged from his investigation.
We needn’t wonder any longer (and indeed, many haven’t) whether the investigation Trump characterizes as a “witch hunt” is “real” any longer. It’s very real, and netting some results that aren’t to the president’s liking. That’s the very reason he calls it a “witch hunt” at all — not because he truly questions the veracity of its outcomes, but because he wants his supporters to do so, to create seeds of doubt throughout the nation that Mueller’s work is illegitimate.
Unfortunately for the president, most of the country is catching onto the fact that his “witch hunt” claims are about as genuine as his complaints against the “fake news.” Yet what’s unfortunate for the president may be beneficial for the rest of America.