In his letter to NBC Night News’ Lester Holt last week, Trump wrote:

They RIGGED the Election. The proof is massive, conclusive, and indisputable.

The proof, of course, in fact, is non-existent.

Not a single federal judge, including those appointed by Trump, found a shred.

Neither did Trump’s attorney general.

Nor his head of election security.

But so what!

Up is down!

The world is flat!

Russia isn’t bombing hospitals, Ukrainians are bombing their own hospitals!

Millions of Russians believe this . . .

. . . and that Ukraine’s Jewish president, descendant of Holocaust survivors, is a Nazi . . .

. . . just as millions of Americans believe the election was rigged.

Trump and Putin and Stalin and you-know-who — whose book of speeches Trump kept by his bedside — all use the same tactic.

The press is the enemy of the people.

It’s alternative facts you should believe.

The rest is fake news.

Meanwhile, three GOP summits were held recently.

One gives hope for the future.

. . . All three featured Republican officeholders. All three promised guests the unvarnished truth. Otherwise, there were vast differences, which boiled down to how much the American right should orient itself around the kind of cultural grievances harnessed by Trump. . . .

. . .A life-size cutout of the former president showed him wielding a machine gun. One man shaved the number 45, Trump’s place in the presidential lineup, on the back of his head. Leaflets left around the [CPAC] conference carried the heading: “Please Help Defend Jan. 6 Defendants: They are Defending Your Freedoms.” Below were directions for donating to a crowdfunding campaign. . . .

. . . Fuentes’s alternative, called the America First Political Action Conference, brought together right-wing media personalities and tech entrepreneurs. It also welcomed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), the far-right firebrand whose presence at both Orlando conferences signaled a measure of overlap between the two. . . .

. . . [P]art of what motivated a [competing] two-day “Principles First” conference [in D.C., at the National Press Club, an organization devoted to promoting and protecting the free press] was a perception among organizers that the two groups gathering in Orlando have too much in common.

“CPAC is an embodiment of the intellectual degradation of the party,” said Heath Mayo, a New York corporate attorney who organized the event. He said he identifies as a conservative but opposes Trump, having supported Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2016. “The slow dissent away from ideas toward personalities — it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying — ‘Can you entertain me? Are we going to own the libs?’”

About 460 people registered for the event, Mayo said, from 41 states, and tickets cost $35. The “Principles First” event cost about $20,000 and does not make money, Mayo said. “We don’t have a Matt Schlapp that does this and charges from $300 to $5,000,” he said, referring to the CPAC organizer. “It’s all volunteers.” . . .

The main attractions on Saturday were Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and fierce Trump critic recently removed from GOP House leadership, and Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia who rebuffed Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud. Both spoke via prerecorded videos. Other crowd favorites included Olivia Troye, a former national security aide to former vice president Mike Pence who now appears frequently on MSNBC as a fierce Trump critic, and Bill Kristol, the columnist, who socialized outside the ballroom and was slated to speak.

Denver Riggleman, a former Republican congressman from Virginia who is now working for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, drew guests to their feet by acknowledging Harry Dunn, a Capitol Police officer standing in the back of the room. Outside the room, Riggleman told attendees that he had just received promising new phone records of those involved in the pro-Trump riot but declined to say whose they were.

At CPAC, some of those under investigation by the committee were defiant, even wearing hats that said “SUBPOENAED,” while other speakers and guests railed against the committee.

“It is all about money,” Riggleman said of conspiracy theorists and those he is investigating. “I’m going to rip apart their ecosystem.” And he hinted at tantalizing findings, while offering few specifics. “I wish I could tell you about it,” he said of the data he was reviewing for the committee. “If I did, you’d be more shocked than you could imagine.”  . . .

Let’s hope they tell us soon.


Obama on Putin (45 seconds, from 2014).



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