The most recent manifestation of this propaganda campaign came from a close Trump associate, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, the latest of his top lieutenants to blatantly stroke his ego in plain view of the world. To hear Pompeo tell it, Trump has the mental acuity and dexterity of a super-spy with decades of experience on the front lines.
In Pompeo’s version of reality, America has a James Bond, and he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Washington Post recently reported that Trump’s daily intelligence briefings are constructed in a fashion to avoid upsetting him. This means that information relating to Russia, particularly that country’s meddling in the 2016 election on his behalf, is removed. A senior intelligence official told the paper, “If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference — that takes the PDB off the rails.”
But appearing at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Pompeo insisted that despite the daily evidence billions of people witness every day on Trump’s lack of intellectual curiosity, when he is given his briefings he transforms into something straight out of Mission Impossible.
“I have seen 25-year intelligence professional receive briefings. I would tell you that President Trump is the kind of recipient of our information at the same level that they are,” Pompeo claimed.
The former Republican congressman added that Trump “has the grounding for him to be able to grasp this information in a way that he can ask sophisticated questions that then lead to important policy discussions.”
It was a stream of conveniently over-the-top praise that has become standard operating procedure under Trump. In televised Cabinet meetings, the bulk of the discussion has been praise of Trump. Among his top cheerleaders has been Mike Pence, who gushed in December that Trump had shepherded an agenda “that truly is restoring this country.”
Pompeo has been right up there with Pence in shaking pom-poms for Trump. He has previously referred to the United States government as “President Trump’s government,” and the record has shown that Pompeo is more than willing to make a mockery of the CIA to feed into Trump’s impulses.
Trump reportedly had serious discussions with Pompeo about creating a private spy network to investigate the so-called “deep state” plotting against him.
And thanks to Trump’s penchant for believing right-wing conspiracy theories featured on Fox News, Pompeo met with a fringe figure peddling the myth that the Democratic Party’s email servers were not hacked in 2016. Reports indicate Trump told Pompeo to meet with the theorist.
Pompeo has already shown that he is happy to run around knee deep in the lunatic fringe at Trump’s behest, so going over the top — perhaps believing that word would get back to Trump — and offering absurdist praise of Trump is perfectly within his pattern of behavior.
But the American people are certainly not seeing the same figure that Pompeo has described. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, when Americans were asked to describe Trump, the most common word used was “idiot.” Followed closely by “liar.”
Maybe he’s just undercover?
Donald Trump leaves the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters after delivering remarks during a visit in Langley, Virginia, January 21, 2017. U.S. REUTERS/Carlos Barria