"Everything becomes a conspiracy theory"

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has incorrectly claimed whistleblower rules were changed immediately before the whistleblower filed his or her complaint. He’s resurrected the myth that Democrats planted a spy inside his 2016 presidential campaign. And he’s promulgated the idea that the whistleblower is a partisan operative and part of the “deep state” of federal government employees out to get him. (The whistleblower reportedly is an intelligence officer, who Trump’s acting director of national intelligence has said “acted in good faith.”)

Data, evidence and repeated assurances from Trump’s own national security leaders do not appear to influence Trump as he searches for ways to undermine Democrats’ impeachment proceedings and the presidential bid of a leading rival, former Vice President Joe Biden…

Former administration officials say they’ve never been sure if Trump actually believes these theories, or simply sees them an effective political tool to silence critics, batter Democratic rivals and appeal to a slice of his base. His passionate and relentless effort to push the theories suggests the former; his long-running birther lie suggests the latter.

“I just think he keeps up the game,” a former senior administration official said. “It is much easier to have a conspiracy theory than have to deal with the facts. He and facts have a severe dislike for each other. He and facts don’t get along. If you are not going to get along with facts and you have an administration known for lying, then everything becomes a conspiracy theory.”