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Hours before I described in my last column how Donald Trump plans to take this country down the fascist rabbit hole, his top recipient of the Failed Upwards Award, Kash Patel, was on Steve Bannon’s podcast detailing Trump’s plans to investigate, detain, and indict members of the media, chiefly those from MSNBC and its parent company, NBC, for “crimes they said we have always been guilty of but never have.”
As Patel patiently explained to Bannon, “We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government but in the media. Yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections. We’re going to come after you, whether it’s criminal or civilly, we’ll figure that out. But yeah, we’re putting you all on notice and Steve, this is why they hate us. This is why we’re tyrannical. This is why we’re dictators because we’re actually going to use the Constitution to prosecute them.”
Those with long memories will remember Kash Patel as an aide to California Republican Congressman Devin Nunes at the time of the Midnight Snipe Hunt early in 2017 when Nunes jumped out of one Uber and called another to take him to the White House so he could “find” secret documents “proving” that the Obama administration had spied on Trump’s campaign. The documents proved no such thing, and Nunes' midnight Snipe Hunt led to his recusal from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the links between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence. Nunes had two friends on the Trump National Security Council, Ezra Cohen Watnick and Michael Ellis, a former committee counsel to Nunes, who just happened to be waiting for Nunes in the White House with the so-called top-secret documents he was searching for.
Patel went on to bigger and better things, failing upward into such jobs as senior director of the counterterrorism directorate of the National Security Council and principal deputy of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Patel was involved in the infamous “perfect phone call” between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when Trump threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky announced an investigation of Joe Biden. Patel was also involved in the firing of Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and the subsequent firing of Alexander Vindman, an Army colonel on Trump’s national security council who reported Trump’s extortion call with Zelensky.
Two months before leaving office, Trump tried to appoint Patel as acting director of the CIA. When that failed, Trump appointed Patel as chief of staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller. Patel got the job after accusing former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper of being disloyal to Trump for refusing to deploy active-duty American soldiers to put down the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Busy, busy, busy was Kash Patel, huh? Get this: he’s at the top of Trump’s lists for a cabinet appointment in a new administration if Trump is elected president in 2024. More recently, Patel was appointed by Trump as his representative to the National Archives for Trump’s papers. He claimed to have been present in the room when Trump allegedly declassified all the boxes full of top-secret documents that Trump stole from the White House and took to Mar-a-Lago. Patel was questioned by the grand jury investigating the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents case. He was represented for that appearance by a lawyer paid for by Trump, Stanley Woodward, who also represents Walt Nauta, the Trump employee at Mar-a-Lago who moved boxes of top-secret documents from storage room to bathroom to ballroom stage in a sort of whack-a-mole fashion to keep them from another of Trump’s attorneys, Evan Corcoran, who was given the unenviable task of “searching” for documents in response to a DOJ subpoena in May of 2022.
Patel’s interview on the Bannon podcast followed statements by Trump about what he would do if elected president next year. In June of this year, Trump said, “I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family.” In a September rant on his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump wrote, “I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events. Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE?” Continuing his rant against the media, Trump wrote, “They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!”
Patel’s appearance on the Bannon podcast followed a rant on Twitter (X) last month against MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan by prominent Trump lawyer and MAGA pundit Mike Davis, who many, including Donald Trump Jr., Bannon, Tucker Carlson, Michael Flynn, and you guessed it, Kash Patel have been pushing to be Trump’s hit-man attorney general if Trump wins the election. On his MSNBC show, Hasan named Davis as one of Trump’s “Dream Team” as a possible leader of a weaponized Trump DOJ and reminded his viewers that Trump “has pledged to round up protesters with the military and suggested using the Justice Department to go after his political enemies. These are plans that should terrify each and every single one of us.”
Davis fired back on Twitter (X) that Mehdi Hasan was on his own Trump “Dream Team” of targets, noting that he, Davis, is being considered by Trump for attorney general. Hasan, Davis wrote, “is on my lists to 2 (indict), 4 (detain), 6 (denaturalize), and 3 (deport). I already have his spot picked out in the DC gulag. But I’ll put him in the women’s cell block, with @Timodc” That last was a reference to conservative never-Trumper Tim Miller, an openly gay writer for The Bulwark and a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee. Closing out his rant, Davis explained that he would send Hasan and Miller to the “women’s cellblock” of the DC gulag “so these whiny Leftists won’t get beat up as often.”
Closing out a very active day of planning for a new fascism, Trump appeared last night at a town hall in Iowa hosted by Sean Hannity. When pressed by Hannity about whether he will seek “retribution” as a dictator against his enemies, as Trump has claimed he will on multiple occasions, Trump replied, “Except for day one. I want to close the border and I want to drill.”
“That’s not retribution,” Hannity said.
Trump chuckled and said to great applause from the crowd, “I love this guy, he says, ‘you’re not going to be a dictator are you?’ I said no, no, no, other than day one.”
That’s like asking a kid if he had three wishes that would come true, what would his first wish be, and the kid answers, “that all my wishes would come true.” Trump has already promised to invoke the Insurrection Act “on day one” and use active-duty soldiers to put down demonstrations against him around the country. He’ll issue an executive order to close the border and after that, sit in the Oval Office all day and sign so many executive orders, it will take a truck to deliver them to the White House.
Saying “I want to drill” is promising to open Bears Ears National Monument to mining and oil drilling, which President Biden shut down by executive order. Trump will reverse every Biden executive order, go after the Dreamers immigration policy, and begin his appointments of “acting” heads of every cabinet post in the government, by-passing the need for Senate confirmation, thus allowing him to put Trump loyalists throughout his government to carry out every executive order he signs.
Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, anyone?
How about Secretary of Defense Kash Patel?
CIA Director Devin Nunes? Secretary of State Rudy Giuliani? Director of White House Office of Budget and Management Harlan Crow?
Trump has already said he won’t accept the results of the election if he doesn’t win. He’s promising a coup and telling us what he’ll do when he forces his way into the Oval Office.
This is what fascism looks like, folks, and they’re telling us how they’re going to do it right out in the open.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
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Fox News has a long history of hosting conservative activists while presenting them as everyday American voters. The network has also been presenting an anti-vaccine activist as a “Democrat voter” — despite her past public comments declaring that she actually votes Libertarian for president and for Republicans in other races, and that Democratic candidates are “an automatic no-no.”
Stephanie Edmonds became an anti-vaccine political activist after she lost her job in the New York City school system for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. She has an extensive media footprint, with interviews and appearances on outlets ranging from the mainstream CNN and CBS News to the right-wing Post Millennial.
On the Wednesday morning edition of Fox & Friends, a panel of voters gathered to discuss the previous evening’s town hall event with former President Donald Trump and Fox host Sean Hannity. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt introduced Edmonds, saying, “I know you’re a Democrat,” while Fox’s on-screen chyron identified her as a “Democrat voter.” Edmonds then criticized Trump on the grounds that he had “teed up a socialist vaccination program that then led to mandates” and promoted her work on an upcoming documentary about the pandemic shutdowns. She further added, “Democrats like me are fleeing from the Democratic Party.”
Edmonds has every right to voice her own opinions, of course. But for Fox to present her as a “Democrat voter” whose pronouncements generally reflect Democratic voters seems disingenuous. Edmonds has in fact described herself as “politically homeless,” and she seems to have registered with the Democratic Party simply in order to vote in local primary elections in a heavily Democratic area.
Earhardt should have known all this information about Edmonds — after all, the two of them had previously discussed this very matter. Edmonds had appeared on the September 28 edition of Fox & Friends as part of a voter panel gathered to respond to the second Republican primary debate. Earhardt explained, “You live in Stamford, Connecticut, very Democratic area, so you’re registered as a Democrat, but you say you’re politically homeless.”
In another segment an hour later, Edmonds further explained to co-host Steve Doocy, “I’m actually politically homeless. I’m Democrat because I live in a Democrat town, so it allows me to participate more effectively in the process.”
Doocy jokingly responded, “You want to be one of the cool kids — is that what you’re saying?”
Edmonds is also active on her personal account on X (formerly known as Twitter), where she promoted Wednesday morning’s Fox appearance and suggested that she would speak out against the “socialist vaccination scheme.” In past tweets, she explained that she first registered as a Democrat in order to support then-Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in the 2020 presidential primaries and applauded Gabbard for “joining the Unaffiliated with me.” She also declared that she has “NEVER voted for either a republican or democrat for president” and that she expects she will “probably go libertarian again” in 2024. She has also stated that “Democrats are an automatic no-no for me,” and said that in the 2022 midterm election she was “voting down ballot Republican.”
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
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