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One of the more headline grabbing quotes out of the Mueller report is what U.S. President Donald Trump apparently said two years ago when he learned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed a special counsel in the first place.
“This is the end of my presidency,” Trump said. “I’m f—ed.”
There has been a lot of glee from Trump’s opponents at these lines, taking them to mean some sort of admission of guilt on the part of the president.
But here’s the broader quote: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f—ed… Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything.”
Trump’s not admitting defeat. He’s complaining about abuse by process. He’s worried that the special counsel would suck up all of the oxygen in the room and make it difficult to proceed with his mandate. And he has been proven largely right.
It was always an absurd idea in the first place that Trump was in serious collusion with Russia to undermine American democracy. But it was an argument that the Democrats desperately clung to as their way of rationalizing how Hillary Clinton lost. The Mueller probe meant they didn’t have to come to terms with the fact Trump won fair and square, but could instead spend four years arguing his presidency was inauthentic.
Could we see something similar happen here in Canada? If Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister in October, will the Liberals or the broader progressive movement and their like-minded allies in the media attempt to perpetuate a similar fraud and find some cheap excuse to delegitimize his government?
Some of the issues the Liberals have been obsessed with in recent months suggest they may be thinking along these lines. Like how they go on and on about “disinformation,” which can be used to undermine news and opinion that doesn’t portray the government in a favourable light.
Or how they’ve been, according to Liberal sources quoted in the Toronto Star, “seized with the issue of social media regulation for some time.” There is something deeply troubling about a government calling to clamp down on social media platforms just months before an election.
And then there are the below-the-belt attempts to link Scheer and the Conservatives to white supremacists, clearly a wholesale attempt to smear his character.
These are, of course, more about stopping people from voting Conservative before the election. But it’s not hard to picture these arguments being repurposed if the Conservatives do win.
I’ve spoken to a number of Conservative strategists about this issue in recent weeks and their opinions are divided. Some are very concerned, others think it’s unlikely.
What would this look like in practice though? We could see calls from the Liberals (and NDP) for Parliamentary committee probes into whether disinformation or foreign interference helped Scheer’s victory. We could see private court challenges, such as how the Council of Canadians received a hearing at the federal court level in 2012 to argue reports of robocalls were voter suppression and fraud. Or there could just be general chatter, amplified by the media, that the win was bogus.
It could really go in any direction. And given the distraction techniques we’ve witnessed from the Liberals on the Lavscam file, anything is possible. It’s something to be on guard against, that’s for sure.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019