After Donald Trump reportedly raged over the FBI raid on Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, Trump’s informal advisers at Fox News and Fox Business ramped up attacks on our system of justice last night. By this morning, Trump TV was urging a bit of restraint.
Yesterday afternoon, Fox’s own Judge Andrew Napolitano, another unofficial Fox adviser to Trump, told viewers that a federal judge must have had pretty darned good evidence of crime(s) by Cohen or Cohen and Trump to have approved the search warrant.
Trump looked like a guilty party as he attacked the American justice system rather than show any concern that his own attorney may have broken the law. From The New York Times:
In his tirade against the F.B.I., Mr. Trump mused about the possibility that he might soon fire [special prosecutor in the Russia investigation] Mueller. Last June, the president vented internally about wanting to fire Mr. Mueller, but was talked out of it.
“We’ll see what may happen,” Mr. Trump said Monday. “Many people have said you should fire him.”
The president once again railed against Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, for recusing himself in the Russia inquiry, and blasted the F.B.I. for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton, “where there are crimes.” He criticized Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, and called Mr. Mueller’s team “the most biased group of people,” who he said were mostly Democrats and some Republicans who had worked for President Barack Obama.
Those were all but marching orders for the Fox sycophants. Yesterday, I theorized that The Five’s lack of commentary on the raid indicated they were waiting for talking points. On the later evening shows, Fox was firing on all cylinders.
Predictably, Fox talking heads did not merely defend Trump but, like him, went on offense to threaten the bedrock of our democracy, the proposition that no one is above the law. And they did it in the most Orwellian way: by smearing those who are upholding our system of justice as the crooks.
Media Matters has several posts that, taken together, provide a good overview of the propaganda so far:
Sean Hannity: Now, Mueller and Rosenstein have declared what is a legal war on the president. And a source close to President Trump tonight is telling Fox News that Mueller’s investigation is way out of control. (4/9/18 Hannity)
Sebastian Gorka: But now it’s war, Lou. This is political warfare. … Mueller has to be dealt with. (4/9/18 Lou Dobbs Tonight)
Joseph diGenova: [Congress] should hold Rosenstein and Wray in contempt of Congress, and if they don’t produce the documents, they should move to impeach both of them.
… They have the power to hold them in contempt, they should, and then they should impeach them and remove them from office. This is—this is arrogance of a type and kind and degree that we have never seen from people in the FBI and Justice Department. (4/9/18 Lou Dobbs Tonight)
Those were evening shows. By this morning, Fox & Friends was counseling restraint. Oh, sure, they were attacking Mueller and the DOJ:
Brian Kilmeade: You had a raid at the president’s attorney’s office, … a so-called no-knock raid, conducted by the FBI, commissioned by Robert Mueller, to get to the documents that many people thought violated attorney-client privilege. And add to that, this was a cooperating Michael Cohen who had his attorney answering every question that Mueller wanted providing the documents that they needed, and all the cooperation got them was a huge breach. (4/10/18 Fox & Friends)
Ainsley Earhardt: You also have to keep in mind that Jeff Sessions recused himself and that left Mueller in charge—or, Mueller’s BFF in charge, Rod Rosenstein. … And you have to also remember that Mueller’s team consists of—most of the 17 confirmed attorneys on his team are registered Democrats or have made Democratic political donations. The president was talking about it yesterday, says this is a disgrace. (4/10/18 Fox & Friends)
Andrew Napolitano: [Sessions] should never have accepted the appointment … The DOJ lacks the stern management and strong will that a strong attorney general should bring because Sessions is too tentative. (4/10/18 Fox & Friends)
But a little while ago, Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted that Trump’s Fox Friends also warned him against taking action against the investigation:
Kilmeade and co-host Steve Doocy pointed out that there would be a “firestorm” if Sessions were to step down because the argument that he had done so without being pressured would not be credible. And Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor and Fox regular, argued that if Trump were to fire Mueller, he would “magnify the dangers for himself and his presidency.”
Moreover, the program devoted surprisingly little time to what seems like an earthquake for the Trump administration. Fox & Friends spent only a handful of segments on the story over the course of the broadcast, hardly the sort of all-systems-go defense we’ve come to expect from the president’s favorite show.
Coincidentally, key Republican senators are also warning Trump against firing Mueller today. The Washington Post reported that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said it would be political “suicide” for Trump to do so and Senator John Cornyn, GOP whip and the No. 2 in the Senate said he doesn’t think Trump will fire Mueller and that “his dismissal would have consequences ‘that not even the president can anticipate.’”
In other words, Fox is still working out its talking points. Like with embattled EPA head Scott Pruitt, there’s a faction of knee-jerk Trumpers and a faction that seems more committed to the broader fortunes of the Republican Party. It’s not yet clear who’s winning. Maybe we can figure it out on today's The Five.
Meanwhile, watch Hannity rail against Mueller as though he should be the subject of a criminal investigation below, from the April 9, 2018 Hannity.
UPDATE: The Five was pre-empted by Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before the Senate today.
If our nation survives this president and is still somewhat of a democracy afterward, we should really have a national month of celebration.