Gaslighting involves using blatant lies as a psychological weapon to distort people’s perception of reality in order to sow doubt and confusion to hide the truth. Donald Trump and his cronies are gaslighting Americans with their bald-faced lies about Trump’s firing of Jim Comey, the FISA warrant on Carter Page, “spies” that supposedly infiltrated Trump’s campaign, and other outrageous lies in their desperate attempts to discredit the Department of Justice, the FBI, and our country’s rule of law.
Gaslighting weaponizes lies in an attempt to hide the truth. So, what might Team Trump be trying to hide?
Trump gaslighted earlier this week, when he falsely claimed via a tweet (of course) that he “never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Yet it is an established fact that, on the very next day after firing Comey, Trump bragged in the Oval Office to then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job…I faced great pressure because of Russia.”
Adding to his self-inflicted damage, Trump then claimed to NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of “this Russia thing,” essentially admitting to obstruction of justice on national television.
This is classic gaslighting: Trump himself admitted several times that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation, yet now, Trump is saying the exact opposite!
Trump appears to have gaslighted legal surveillance, yet again in a tweet, when he accused Obama of placing a “tapp” on his phones.
Gaslighting hasn’t been limited solely to Trump. Trump’s cronies have been all too eager to join, led by Devin Nunes, the Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman. Nunes repeatedly has tried to discredit the FISA warrant (and multiple renewals) that were granted to surveil Carter Page, who worked “for free” as a foreign policy advisor on Trump’s campaign. Page previously had been under FISA surveillance because Russian spies were trying to recruit him, yet Nunes went to the extraordinary effort of issuing his dishonest memo in an attempt to discredit the process by which Page’s FISA warrant was granted.
Why would Republicans, including Nunes and others on the House Intelligence Committee, engage in such bizarre and downright irresponsible behavior? It is difficult to imagine that Republicans would stick out their necks, solely for Carter Page.
Are Republicans attempting to discredit the FISA warrant process in general, because they’re concerned about even more damning information yet to come?
It’s an established fact that Carter Page went to Moscow during the campaign in July 2016, where he and Rosneft’s head of investor relations discussed Rosneft’s confidential plan to sell its stock, along with Rosneft’s desire to drop sanctions. Several months later, in October 2016, Christopher Steele reported in his dossier that, during Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow, Page had negotiated a deal with Rosneft in which Trump would drop sanctions (if elected) in exchange for Team Trump receiving a brokerage fee of the sale of 19% of Rosneft’s stock. Just a few months after Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow, a FISA warrant was granted in October 2016 that placed Page under legal surveillance.
Moreover, multiple, credible sources report that the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Team Trump didn’t begin because of Christopher Steele’s “dodgy” dossier, informants, or so-called “spies.” Rather, as former NSA analyst and naval officer, Dr. John Schindler, reported, the TrumpRussia investigation was “kicked off by not one, not two, but multiple SIGINT reports.” (SIGINT or “signals intelligence” refers to intercepted electronic communications, including phone calls, texts, emails, and “secure” messages). These worrisome SIGINT reports about Trump from multiple intelligence services of allied countries appropriately rang alarm bells within the U.S. intelligence community.
Can you imagine the rest of the SIGINT that Robert Mueller now has, and not just on Carter Page? Might this explain the gaslighting by Trump and his cronies about Page’s FISA warrant?
In addition to Comey’s firing and Page’s FISA warrant, Trump himself, aided and abetted by Nunes and other cronies, have gaslighted with their false claims that “spies” had infiltrated Trump’s campaign. Yet after the DOJ recently briefed Nunes and the rest of the Gang of 8 about the FBI’s use of an informant, an American academic in the U.K. who is not a “spy,” Nunes has been radio silent on the subject, an unusual feat for him.
It’s not clear what Trump and his cronies were attempting to hide with their gaslighting about “spies,” but it’s an established fact that Trump’s longtime business partner, Felix Sater, is an FBI informant. (Of course, Trump denies knowing Sater, in yet another example of gaslighting.) In addition to Sater, it’s a safe bet that at least one person on Team Trump became an FBI informant during the campaign.
Gaslighting can be a powerful psychological weapon, but we can defeat their lies. Our best strategy to resist Team Trump’s gaslighting is to shine the bold light of truth to expose their lies and “alternative facts.”
As Dr. Martin Luther King eloquently said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” And together, regardless of politics, we must be the light that drives out the darkness.