U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is engaging is a campaign of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and gaslighting in efforts to shore up President Donald Trump’s MAGA base while ramping up their attacks on China over the coronavirus that to date has killed more than 66,000 people in America.
On Sunday’s ABC News’ “This Week” (video below) Pompeo said the “best experts” think it was “manmade,” referring to the novel coronavirus, then immediately switched and said he believes and trusts the Intelligence Community which says it was not.
“We’ve said from the beginning this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China,” Pompeo told ABC’s Martha Radditz. “We took a lot of grief for that from the outset but I think the whole world can see now.”
That’s also false. There was never any question that the virus that causes COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China. (There was one Chinese official who suggested the coronavirus came from the U.S. but no one believed that lie.) The Trump administration took no “grief” for saying the virus came from China – they took tremendous grief for insisting on calling it the “Chinese virus,” and the “Chinese flu,” given the racist implications of those characterizations that have been causing harassment and attacks on those believed to be of Chinese origin.
“I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo told ABC’s Martha Radditz.
Radditz responded, asking Pompeo, “Do you believe it was man-made or genetically modified?”
“Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made, I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point,” Pompeo replied.
Stunned, Radditz tried to challenge Pompeo.
“Your Office of the DNI says the consensus, the scientific consensus was ‘not man-made or genetically modified.'”
Pompeo doesn’t flinch, doesn’t say he misspoke, but he does gaslight: “That’s right. I agree with that. I’ve seen their analysis, I’ve seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly, I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate.”
Radditz, still grappling with Pompeo saying two entirely different things at the same time, pushes further, while giving him the benefit of the doubt, says: “Oh, OK, so just to be clear you do not think it was man-made or genetically modified?”
Pompeo does not say, “Correct,” or, “No, it was not man-made or genetically modified.”
Instead, Pompeo offers up this statement: “I’ve seen what the Intelligence Community has said, I have no reason to believe that they’ve got it wrong.”
News outlets, like Bloomberg, decided to report that “Pompeo stopped short of saying the virus was man-made.”
And yet, he began by saying, “the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made.”
But as Radditz noted, the U.S. government’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued a statement saying: “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” and added it “will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
So there is no official Intelligence Community finding that the coronavirus “came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” or is “man-made,” and yet Pompeo claims he is citing “experts” saying it was man-made.
Gaslighting, disinformation, and conspiracy-theory spreading at its best.
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Trump Is a Threat to Democracy – Even if He Loses: Signorile
This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.
Here we’ve been for almost four years, worried that Donald Trump will destroy us if he wins re-election in two weeks.
But what about if he clearly and decisively loses? Prepare yourself for the fact that none of us is going to be able to take a vacation — even if he does accept the loss and vacates the White House in January.
Right now, Trump is projecting an air of invincibility. “We are going to win,” he told his campaign staffers yesterday. Later he told reporters, “I’m not running scared. I think I’m running angry. I’m running happy and I’m running very content ’cause I’ve done a great job.”
But this seems like damage control meant to stop the media from continuing to focus in on his rallies over the weekend, in which he pondered what would happen if he lost (“Maybe I’ll have to leave the country”) and begged suburban women for their votes (“Suburban women, please like me”).
According the Associated Press, quoting three campaign and White House officials, “Trump himself has alternated between disbelief and anger at the idea that he could lose to a candidate whom he views as washed up and incompetent.”
He’s freaking out. Even Trump, who often seems so out of touch with reality, sees what’s happening quite clearly. My hunch is that he knows it’s highly unlikely that he can turn things around this late in the game by switching positions, reaching out to women and people of color and others he’s losing badly, since voters are locked in and many despise him. And if he even tries, he’ll depress and possibly enrage his own base.
Another politician in such dire straits might just take that chance — certainly we’re seeing some GOP senators doing that, moving away a bit from Trump, though it’s likely far too late — but for Trump, a loss of support among his base after his re-election bid failed would be a loss of what he sees as a protective mass movement that will do anything for him.
Trump has got to be worried about investigations and prosecutions, and would no longer have the Justice Department, the military or the pardon power to wield as tools. And even if he tries to pardon himself for any crimes, which would ultimately go to the courts — or enacts the scenario his former fixer Michael Cohen envisions, in which he steps down in the lame duck, and Mike Pence briefly becomes president and pardons him — that won’t protect him from state charges.
To read the remainder of this article, visit Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter.
Topics for Final Presidential Debate Announced and Boy Will Donald Trump Be in Trouble
NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker has just announced the topics for the final presidential debate next week on October 22 in Tennessee.
There are six topics, most of which are policy-driven topics, where Trump routinely is challenged. They were chosen by Welker, and released through the Commission on Presidential Debates, as the Associated Press reports.
They are: Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership.
Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been panned by Republicans and Democrats alike, and his approval rating on the issue, which most Americans place as the most important, is 57.4% disapprove, and just 39.8% approve, according to FiveThirtyEight‘s analysis.
The President may be a Republican but he’s never been a “family values” Republican as his sexual misconduct can attest.
Trump fails miserably on race. His handling of the Black Lives Matter protests elicited angry charges of fascism.
The President is a science and climate change denier who claims windmills cause cancer, pulled out of the Paris agreement, and expanded oil and gas drilling into areas never before seen, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. His decision to open the Eastern Seaboard to offshore drilling was criticized even by Republicans.
During the first debate when climate change was a topic Trump criticized that California has not “cleaned” its forests. (Most of California’s forests are federal lands, not state property.)
President Trump addresses climate change, forest management and California wildfires.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) September 30, 2020
The President has no national security plans, and is widely known for having no interest in receiving what were once known as Daily Intelligence Briefings. In the Trump White House those are now just “intelligence briefings,” and Trump receives on average just four per month. His last intel briefing was more than three weeks ago, on September 22.
As for leadership, well, here’s what Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska told 17,000 of his constituents recently:
“The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor.”
He also said he did not think Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic has been “reasonable or responsible, or right.”
Trump Plants More Seeds for Refusing to Concede – Falsely Claims ‘Tens of Thousands’ of Ballots Are ‘Fraudulent’
President Donald Trump is building on his stunning remarks from last month, when he repeatedly refused to promise a peaceful transition of power should he lose re-election. Trump is the first United States president to ever refuse to honor centuries of accepted conduct.
Trump on Thursday falsely claimed there have already been “tens of thousands” of “fraudulent” ballots in this election.
“Look at these ballots that are being — tens of thousands of ballots are already fraudulent,” he told Fox News Business’ Stuart Varney. “I want to see a fair election. That’s all I’m asking for is a fair election.”
That’s actually not what he’s asking for, as evidenced by the massive voter intimidation and election interference campaigns he and his supporters have been waging.
“Under what circumstances would you concede?” Fox News Business’s Stuart Varney asked Trump during a telephone interview, as Raw Story reported.
“All I want is a fair election,” Trump claimed.
“So, it’s your judgement as to whether it’s fair or not as to whether you would concede?” Varney, a top Trump supporter, asked.
“Stuart, they always talk about the friendly transition,” Trump replied.
The term has always been “peaceful transition,” not “friendly transition.”
It’s an important distinction with a difference.
Trump is again making up “facts” so he can then use that to later defend his indefensible actions.
“They spied on my campaign and they got caught,” the President continued, lying. There was no spying on his campaign. Even the Dept. of Justice agrees, after it quietly closed down the false “unmasking” probe after finding no evidence of wrongdoing or criminal activity by anyone in the Obama administration.
“They tried to overthrow the president of the United States and they got caught,” Trump continued, again, a ludicrous lie. “And then they stand up so innocent and they say, ‘Will you, you know, do a fair transition?’ Well, they didn’t do a fair transition.”
Again, the term is “peaceful,” not “fair.”
Fair is subjective. Friendly is subjective. Peaceful is not.
“You’re implying if you don’t think it’s fair, you won’t leave the White House,” Varney pointed out, “which means you won’t concede.”
“I’m not saying anything!” Trump replied. “I’m saying this. I think everybody says it. You have to have a fair election. Look at these ballots that are being — tens of thousands of ballots are already fraudulent. I want to see a fair election. That’s all I’m asking for is a fair election.”
“But you know when they talk about a friendly transition, they spied on my campaign,” he added.
“If it wasn’t a friendly transition when you walked into the White House, does that mean that you’re not going to allow a friendly transition if Joe Biden walks into the White House?” Varney pressed.
Trump went on to claim, “people broke the law, people spied on my campaign and they act so innocent.”
“And we have all the evidence. We have so much evidence,” he insisted, which if it were true Attorney General Bill Barr, who has been acting as Trump’s personal attorney, would have brought charges.
VARNEY: Under what circumstances would you concede the election?
TRUMP: "All I want is a fair election"
V: So it's your judgment as to whether it's fair?
TRUMP: "Stuart — they always talk about the friendly transition. They spied on my campaign." [this is a lie] pic.twitter.com/f2CUV6N262
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 15, 2020
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