Today, Donald Trump yet again attacked the news media and ranted to his Kool-Aid drinking supporters that the entire Russiagate investigation was based on fabrications an suggested that it may have as its goal to steal the rightful election from him - and, of course, them. This is taking Trump's demagoguery to new levels and suggests he may seek to cause a severe upheaval if Robert Mueller's investigation produces damaging information on Trump, his family members, or campaign. A piece in the Washington Post looks at this growing prospect. Here are highlights:President Trump is again attacking the media this morning, and his broadsides carry a newly ominous edge: He is both faulting the media for allegedly downplaying the size and intensity of support from his base and accusing them of trying to deliberately weaken that support for him. This comes some 24 hours after deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein told “Fox News Sunday” that if the special counsel finds evidence of crimes in the course of his probe into Russian sabotage of our election, it may be within the scope of his investigation to pursue them. In these seemingly disparate developments, it is hard not to discern the potential for a volatile, combustible combination.
Because Trump is undermining our democratic norms and processes in so many ways, it is often easy to focus on each of them in isolation, rather than as part of the same larger story. But, taken together, they point to a possible climax in which Trump, cornered by revelations unearthed by Robert Mueller III’s probe and by ongoing media scrutiny, seeks to rally his supporters behind the idea that this outcome represents not the imposition of accountability by functioning civic institutions, but rather an effort to steal the election from him — and from them.
It bears repeating that Mueller’s investigation is looking at how a hostile foreign power may have sabotaged our democracy, and at whether the Trump campaign colluded with it, and at conduct by Trump himself that came after the election: Whether the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey after a demand for his loyalty was part of a pattern of obstruction of justice. The first of these has been attested to by our intelligence services, and evidence of the second (at least in the form of a willingness to collude) and the third of these has been unearthed by dogged scrutiny by the news media. It is hardly an accident that Trump continues to cast doubt on the credibility of both those institutions, even as he and his spokespeople continue to cast the entire affair as an effort to reverse the election by illegitimate means.
This threatens damage on multiple levels. By casting the entire Russia story as fiction, Trump seeks to undermine the credibility of efforts to determine how our electoral system might be vulnerable to further attacks, separate and irrespective of what is learned about the Trump campaign’s conduct, possibly making it less likely that we secure our system against any such future sabotage.
[I]t’s also easy to envision the flip side: Trump demagoguing his supporters into a frenzy of rage, at rallies that are exactly like the ones we’ve seen in recent days, in the face of legitimate revelations.
[I]t’s likely that more future revelations about Trump’s unfitness for the presidency will further undercut his efforts to cast institutions holding him accountable as illegitimate. But Trump is already giving every indication that he will go all out in trying. And how much damage that will cause is anyone’s guess.
Be very, very afraid.