With Donald Trump’s epic failure to quickly address the Coronavirus pandemic rapidly tanking not only the American economy but his chances to remain in the White House for a second term, his reelection campaign is resorting to ludicrous measures to prevent low-information voters from coming to the growing realization that the president’s inaction is largely the reason that the COVID-19 virus has proven so deadly in this country.
The Trump campaign is now suing a Wisconsin NBC affiliate for airing a political ad titled “Exponential Threat” created by the political action committee Priorities USA that consists entirely of audio clips of the president’s own words accompanied by a graph of the number of coronavirus cases in the United States.
Amazingly, the Trump campaign’s lawsuit accuses the ad of being “false and defamatory,” despite the fact that it consists entirely of direct quotes from the president’s own mouth.
The Trump campaign’s central argument is that the editing of the president’s words in the ad leads viewers to believe that he is calling the coronavirus itself a” hoax,” rather than what they claim was his intended meaning of the word to refer “to the Democrats’ politicization of the pandemic.”
The dispute over what essentially amounts to semantics ignores the very real fact — as proven by the other direct quotes from Trump that were included in the ad and downplay the severity of the threat of the COVID-19 virus — that the administration’s failure to act to prepare the nation for the pandemic — one that federal intelligence officials had begun warning the White House about beginning as early as November of last year — constitutes a dereliction of duty and a proof of presidential incompetence unparalleled in modern history.
While Donald Trump himself had a long history of using litigation or the threat of legal action to try to intimidate his opponents in business as well as in the political arena, this attempt to use the courts to prevent his opposition from using his own words against him brings his litigiousness into dangerous territory.
The initiation of lawsuits accusing legitimate political opponents of libel and slander is not unique to Donald Trump.
The ruling party in the nominally-democratic country of Singapore has long been accused of using their courts as a powerful tool to maintain their over-50-year monopoly on control of the island nation, as this report from Human Rights Watch details.
“Leaders of the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP), which has been in power for more than 50 years, have a history of bankrupting opposition politicians through civil defamation suits and jailing them for public protests. Suits against and restrictions on foreign media that report critically on the country have featured regularly since the 1970s and restrictions on public gatherings have been in place since at least 1973.”
With the Republican senate now stacking the federal courts with conservative Federalist Society-approved jurists and local GOP politicians spearheading voter-suppression measures throughout the country, the Trump campaign’s latest lawsuit could be a harbinger of a dystopian political future where free speech is restricted through bankruptcy-inducing legal barrages against any dissenting opinions and inconvenient truths are covered up by intimidation.
It’s now obvious that the president is trying to rewrite history to eradicate the memory of his casual attitude towards the onrushing contagion in the early days of the pandemic when the virus could have been more easily contained.
His Orwellian attempts to make the public disbelieve what they have heard with their own ears are frightening, but his use of campaign funds to try to cow his opponents into submission is even more terrifying in a country where the First Amendment protects the right of free speech.
Trump can’t handle the truth of his own failures and will do everything within his powers to prevent them from being used against him by those seeking to remove him from office.
As the Priorities USA ad says “America needs a leader we can trust.”
Donald Trump has more than proven that he is not that leader.
Original reporting by David Edwards at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.