In which the “wag the dog” crankery on the left escalates from MSNBC hosts to Democratic congressmen in less than a week. I wonder how far Moulton’s prepared to stick with this possibility, though. If Assad gasses more civilians next week and Trump hits six more airfields, will that be sufficient proof that he’s really trying to damage the regime or just further “wag the dog” shenanigans? Maybe nothing short of a limited nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia will do.

Here’s a perfect example of an innocent statement that’ll be twisted into a nefarious admission by progressive conspiracy theorists:

Trump himself was “deeply affected” by the pictures of children being “sprayed down by hoses to keep their skin from burning,” according to his son [Eric]. “It was horrible. These guys are savages and I’m glad he responded the way he responded.”…

Eric Trump said his dad has only argued that the U.S. should be “best friends with other superpowers” and described allegations of improper links with Russia as “ridiculous.”

“If there was anything that [the strike on] Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie,” he said.

There’s no Russia connection and never was, Trump is saying, which is why POTUS didn’t let his hoped-for detente with Putin deter him from punishing Assad. But taken in isolation, you could read that line as confirmation of Moulton’s conspiracy theory. Moulton wants you to believe — in his modest, noncommittal, “just asking questions” way — that the point of the airstrike was to manufacture conflict between Trump and Putin, not to punish Assad, precisely so that Trump’s inner circle could use it as a defense to Russiagate collusion. Now here’s Eric, supposedly using it as exactly that sort of defense. Even the alt-righters who are angry at Trump for ordering the attack are more in touch with reality than that. If you want to blame someone for Trump’s mysterious conversion from dove to hawk, you don’t need to look to Moscow; look no further than his own inner circle, which, apart from Bannon, is teeming with hawks, and a broader U.S. foreign policy establishment that’s been itching to punch Assad in the face for years.

The way you can tell Moulton isn’t on the level but is pandering cynically to his progressive base is how he reads something sinister into the fact that the administration informed the Russians in advance that the attack was coming. Is that evidence of collusion? Moulton wonders. Of course not: It’s part of the “deconfliction” process in Syria designed to make sure Russians aren’t on the wrong end of any American attacks on jihadis and Americans aren’t on the wrong end of any Russian attacks on the rebels. It’s a straightforward prudential measure intended to keep two major powers from ending up in a hot war by inadvertently inflicting casualties on each other. And Moulton, an Iraq war veteran, is well positioned to understand that. The fact that he’s playing dumb gives away the disingenuousness here.

Exit question: Given that this administration leaks like a sieve, if there was anything to Moulton’s theory we’d already know about it, wouldn’t we?