Move Over Sean Hannity, Make Room For Kimberley Strassel

On the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, Kimberley Strassel has taken over as the lead conspiracy theorist among Trump’s enablers. For example, last week I noted that she is the one that launched the whole nonsense about the FBI planting a spy in the Trump campaign. That one soon took over as the lead story in every right-wing news outlet.

Meanwhile, Strassel has been building on that case with her next suggestion that the Trump campaign was “set up” by the Obama administration. Take a look at the whopper she uses as an opening argument:

Think of the 2016 Trump-Russia narrative as two parallel strands—one politics, one law enforcement. The political side involves the actions of Fusion GPS, the Hillary Clinton campaign and Obama officials—all of whom were focused on destroying Donald Trump. The law-enforcement strand involves the FBI—and what methods and evidence it used in its Trump investigation. At some point these strands intersected—and one crucial question is how early that happened.

In one fell swoop she lumps Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign and Obama officials (I suppose that’s a reference to the “deep state”) as simply political actors who were out to destroy Donald Trump. That group is somehow distinct from the FBI as the law enforcement strand that was involved in the “Trump investigation.”

As Strassel states, her goal is to identify when those two strands intersected. She does that by noting a reference in the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia report to a meeting in early spring of 2016 when “then-FBI Director James Comey briefed White House National Security Council Principals that the FBI had counterintelligence concerns about the Trump campaign.” Without saying so directly, she goes on to hint that alerting NSC principals to their concerns is what led the Clinton campaign to hire Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign about Russian connections. That information was then fed back to the FBI, resulting in surveillance and spies.

Catch your breath for a moment on the charge she just threw out there with zero evidence other than the timing. The NSC is made up of the highest ranking national security officials in an administration. For Obama, that included the likes of Joe Biden, Susan Rice, James Clapper, Loretta Lynch and John Brennan. The inference Strassel makes is that one or more of them took highly classified information from the FBI Director and shared it with a presidential campaign in order to “set up” her opponent. Even in the Trump era, that is so over-the-top as to be breathtaking.

Nevertheless, right-wing media is running with the idea, which is what led to Maria Bartiromo’s claim that Clinton and Obama were the masterminds behind the so-called “witch hunt” and columns from people like Andrew McCarthy who wrote:

The Trump-Russia investigation did not originate with Page or Papadopoulos. It originated with the Obama administration.

As a result, the hashtag #ImpeachObama started trending on twitter. They’re not joking.

As an aside, if Trump voters want to be respected, they’ll need to stop making fools of themselves like that.

I suppose that the buy-out of the Wall Street Journal by Rupert Murdoch should have signaled that a Fox News mentality would eventually have an opening at that publication. But who knew that someone on the editorial page would be challenging the likes of Sean Hannity to be the top conspiracy theorist of right-wing news?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.