Oooh, that sounds scary. If you rolled it up, I bet a whack on the nose would really hurt, too. If that’s not what ABC’s Rick Klein has in mind by warning that Donald Trump wants to “weaponize” the Robert Mueller report, though, then it sounds more like another and more hysterical version of the tired “Republicans pounce!” trope:
Things are about to move from vindication to weaponization.
Maybe Trump’s buying a few thousand copies to fire out of cannons. Is he buying them in bulk to drop on the heads of Democratic presidential candidates at their rallies? I bet that’d hurt, too.
Actually, as it turns out, Trump plans to use the outcome of the Mueller investigation in the exact same way Democrats used its existence in the midterm cycle:
Just like that, Robert Mueller’s investigation has gone from an existential danger to Donald Trump’s presidency to a potentially valuable tool for his re-election.
His campaign and the Republican National Committee are fundraising off of the end of the so-called “witch hunt.” And Trump advisers are ratcheting up their attacks on the media.
The president and his allies on Capitol Hill are already laying the groundwork for more investigations — only this time, “to unpack the other side of the story,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham.
Hmmm. How is this different from how Democrats exploited the investigation last year? They certainly fundraised off of it. Leadership figures such as Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, not to mention backbenchers like Al Green and Rashida Tlaib, were all over television and other media pushing for impeachment, to Nancy Pelosi’s occasional dismay. Schiff and Nadler pledged all sorts of side investigations to follow up on Mueller’s eventual damnation of Trump, and in fact still are implementing them in the House already. They’re going after Trump’s finances, his family, and his business partners, mainly because they can, and it’s a handy way to do some 2020 oppo research via subpoena.
Other than Steve Bannon telling CBS last month that Democrats would “weaponize” the Mueller report, I don’t seem to recall any media outlets describing their strategy as “weaponizing” Mueller or the House of Representatives in any way. And yet ABC isn’t the only news outlet spinning accountability for the two-year nothingburger as “weaponization.” The Guardian used the same term yesterday, only with a traditional British spelling and adding an accusation of “assault” on the media to boot:
Donald Trump is set to weaponise the special counsel’s finding of no collusion with Russia in his bid for re-election, turning vindication into vengeance with an assault on Democrats and the media.
In contrast, the Washington Post sounds almost sedate as they try to explain their headline, which claims that Trump will use the report “as a cudgel against critics”:
President Trump and his allies signaled Monday that they intend to use the broad conclusions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — which found no criminal conspiracy with Russia to influence the 2016 election — to forcefully attack perceived opponents they say unfairly accused the president of wrongdoing.
The targets are diffuse, ranging from specific Democratic lawmakers to the media more generally. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway called on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to resign immediately, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged Schiff to relinquish his committee chairmanship. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he planned to investigate what he dubbed “all of the abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI” during the 2016 presidential election. And the Trump campaign sent a memo to television hosts and producers that included a list of guests it suggested should no longer be booked because they “made outlandish, false claims” on air.
Trump himself, speaking in the Oval Office, offered a broad and harsh denunciation, saying there were “a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things.”
Either the Post believes that Trump will take my first suggestion and used a rolled-up Mueller report to whack noses, or they’re using a metaphor selected from the Use On Republicans In Case Of Progressive Emergency case. To be fair, the WaPo’s issue is mainly with its headline writer and not the reporters. The same cannot be said for ABC, the Guardian, Politico yesterday, and others who have this unfortunate habit of replaying and reworking the “Republicans pounce!” narrative whenever Republicans and conservatives have solid ground on which to return fire (another clichéd metaphor!) on critics. The story isn’t that “Democrats screwed up” — it’s that “Trump’s gonna weaponizationalistogram the issue!”
At least Klein has the decency to explain the use of the narrative:
For now, Democrats can and will unite over the importance of seeing the full report. But assuming Attorney General William Barr is being honest about what Mueller found, and that the public sees some version of the report Mueller produced, the party that gets the most out of Mueller is unlikely to be theirs.
Well, we can’t have that, can we? We must remake the story from Democrats blowing all their credibility into Trump weaponizing the fact that the Democrats’ public accusations of treachery just got shown to be baseless after two years of hammering (another clichéd metaphor!) Trump with them. That wasn’t “weaponizing,” but apparently disarming the argument is.