To smear a patriot

I’ve been asking flag-waving Republicans why they support a president who sold out American democracy to get elected. Thus far, the answers have been, “Socialism,” “Obama’s tan suit,” and “The dog ate my homework.”

If you’re a Trump supporter, it’s more comforting to embrace Attorney General Robert Barr’s fanciful adaption of the Mueller Report: Total exoneration! The earth is flat! Unicorns exist! Melania’s boobs are real!

Republicans didn’t want to address actual facts during last week’s judiciary hearing, either. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., floated a conspiracy theory that a lifelong Republican and decorated Marine, Robert Mueller, who overhauled the FBI to better respond to terrorism after 9/11, had inexplicably recruited a cadre of Democratic henchmen to overthrow Trump in some sort of traitorous Deep Swamp coup.

That’s typical paranoid Republican groupthink that every FBI agent, every reporter, every judge, every college professor, is incapable of fairness and objectivity. That everyone’s as corrupt and duplicitous as they are. In psychology, that’s called projection.

Armstrong blundered into Mueller’s best moment when the special prosecutor took the greenhorn to the woodshed for his drive-by-sliming of investigators, reminding Americans that impartiality in the judicial process is the norm, and if there’s a side to take, it’s that of democracy.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Tenn., continues to block election security measures that would forbid collusion with foreign governments, buttress cyber-defenses, and mandate backup paper ballots, either because he wants Russia’s help again, or possibly because it would wound the president’s fragile ego by inferring that the election wasn’t squeaky clean. It wasn’t.

Let’s review. Former Trump campaign manager and current jailbird Paul Manafort really did give inside polling data to Kremlin operative Konstantin Kilimnik so the Russians could more effectively interfere in an American election in key states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump won by a scant total of 77,000 votes. It doesn’t strain credulity to imagine that Russia put Trump over the top. The Trump campaign not only welcomed help from Russia and Wikileaks, they actively sought it, something Mueller called unpatriotic and wrong.

When Mueller was first appointed, Trump tellingly moaned, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f–ed.” Then, in a cover up attempt, Trump twice ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller — obstruction of justice — and when he refused, Trump demanded he write a letter saying none of it ever happened — perjury and witness tampering.

The Mueller ‘Nothingburger’ produced eight Trump-related indictments and five convictions for lying and conspiracy, and spawned dozens of ongoing investigations. The facts speak for themselves, which is why Armstrong went to such great lengths to avoid them, preferring instead to smear an American patriot.

The fact is, if you support an administration that colluded with the Russians and then tried to cover it up, you’re not a true American, you’re a gang member, and when this rancid chapter is finally closed, history will know who enabled fascism and who defended democracy.

Mueller refused to elaborate beyond the scope of the investigation — a testament to his dedication to a fair process. His reputation will recover from his substantive but tired appearance. Armstrong’s won’t. The more important question is, will America recover?

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.