Trump launches fresh attacks on FBI and Justice Department with dubious allegation

As the country was marking the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Trump used the platform to launch a fresh round of assaults on the FBI and Justice Department.

Background

President Trump has used his dislike for the mainstream media as a tool to bolster his image in the face of rising criticism. A trademark strategy is to discredit any criticism of him or his administration by classifying the news agency as “fake news”. So far, his strategy has worked wonders for his domestic support base as major non-partisan news outlets like MSNBC and CNN have been branded as peddlers of fake news.

It is also common for President Trump to use national events, historic days and campaign rallies to spread rumours about the Democratic party, Robert Mueller’s investigation and even Hillary Clinton in an attempt to divert media attention from his crumbling administration.

Analysis

The president repeated a claim from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that the pair employed a “media leak strategy” to undermine his administration, then blamed the Bureau and the Justice Department for lck of action on the matter. Trump referred to two former FBI officials who have become infamous for trading anti-Trump texts: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The claim from Mark Meadows is debatable; Strzok’s attorney said his client’s reference to a “media leak strategy” was an effort to stem unauthorized disclosures of information. Both Strzok and Page have left the FBI; Strzok was fired over his anti-Trump texts.

The tweet was one of several Tuesday in which Trump interspersed messages about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with his thoughts on the Justice Department. Apparently quoting from a segment on Fox News, he tweeted at 7:08 a.m., “We have found nothing to show collusion between President Trump & Russia, absolutely zero, but every day we get more documentation showing collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign, foreign spies & Russians, incredible.”

A minute later, he retweeted a message about his 9/11 proclamation, adding the hashtags, “#NeverForget #September11th.” Next, he tweeted about the “media leak strategy.” After that, he suggested — apparently derisively and again quoting Fox News — that his Justice Department “would be behaving no differently than it is” if it were run by Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s attorney general.

Trump’s tweet about the “Media Leak Strategy” refers to a letter Meadows sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein on Monday alleging a “systemic culture of media leaking” among high-ranking Justice Department and FBI officials. The letter reveals previously undisclosed messages between Strzok and Page, who were involved in both the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Trump has frequently derided both officials as he has attempted to discredit the Russia probe.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the primary debate is the concern of the media, that those not supporting the policies of the current US administration are labelled an “enemy of the people”. We feel the proclivity to insist that truths you don't like are "fake news" is dangerous to the lifeblood of any democracy. President Trump’s words also empower other political leaders who are looking to suppress their own new media outlets and dismiss reports. We also feel President Trump’s narratives encourage such deviant behaviour from people who support extreme ideologies. We believe Trump has used events of national importance, like the 9/11 anniversary, to propagate rumours which attempt to discredit his opponents.