Even as all the media attention earlier this week was focused on Nancy Pelosi being elected the House Speaker, Donald Trump made sure to turn the cameras on himself when he announced a surprise press briefing for Washington journalists. But nothing of any significance came out from that briefing, leading journalists to conclude that the surprise briefing was a means by Trump to divert the attention from Pelosi — and the fact that Democrats have once again gained control of the House.
Before the press briefing on Wednesday, January 2, Trump also allowed cameras and journalists to stay inside as he and his cabinet convened a meeting for a little under two hours. Out of the blue during the meeting, Trump claimed that the Soviet Union’s decision to invade Afghanistan in 1979 was the right call, as “terrorists” had begun to infiltrate Moscow. This strange assertion by the President led MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow to delve deeper into the source of Trump’s facts — and not only did she reveal the source of Trump’s beliefs, she also showed that some of the weirdest conspiracy theories peddled by the president are in fact part of existing Russian propaganda.
Maddow drilled down on two other conspiracy theories, along with Trump’s assertion that the Soviet Union’s decision to invade Afghanistan was the right call.
On the 30th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the Russian government is retroactively removing the classification of the move as being a “mistake” — and instead seeking to justify it in Russia’s national interest. Nowhere else in United States political circles, or academia, has such a conclusion been reached. Maddow pointed out that the sudden endorsement of this Russian position by Trump — during what was an unrelated cabinet meeting — was nothing short of strange.
https://t.co/PL2Cp8uTrS Again, there is only one reason Trump would be spouting Putin-crafted conspiracy theories. I am certain he wouldn’t even know Belarus or Montenegro were real countries, if he wasn’t trying to amplify Putin’s propaganda.— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) January 4, 2019
Maddow also brought to attention two other very unusual and utterly unsubstantiated claims which Trump has made in the past. The first one, which was made a few weeks into the chaos of his presidency — with the Muslim ban and his phone calls to foreign leaders dominating the press — went under the radar at the time. In an article in the Associated Press, it was revealed that certain Trump administration national security aides had been seeking information from U.S. intelligence agencies about the nature of Poland’s military presence in Belarus. As the article and Maddow both noted, this is also a fabrication. There is no evidence of the Polish military’s presence in Belarus, and this was allegedly part of a disinformation campaign waged by Russian intelligence.
Yet another conspiracy theory, or an absolutely untrue claim, forwarded by Trump is something he said during an interview with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. While talking about foreign policy, Trump suddenly mentioned that people of the Balkan country Montenegro were very aggressive people, and could start World War III. There is absolutely no truth to this claim. In reality, Montenegro narrowly escaped a plan by Russia to orchestrate a military coup in the country back in 2016 — even as its elections were going on. It was part of Russia’s efforts to stop Montenegro from joining NATO, which it later did.
This footage from 2017 shows Trump pushing Montenegro PM Dusko Markovic aside when he came to attend his country’s first NATO meet last year.