The Trump regime is now gearing up to intimidate members of the press directly with paid political attack ads if they dare to challenge the Trump regime's narrative that Democrats are conspiratorial traitors that created the "lie" of Russian collusion.
Trump allies see Barr’s letter as a kind of Swiss Army knife—a tool useful in all kinds of situations. Not only is it exculpatory, they say, but it also implicitly rebukes the press for its coverage of the Russia investigation, inoculating Trump from any future scandal that reporters might unearth. According to a source familiar with internal discussions at the Republican National Committee and the pro-Trump super PAC America First, both organizations are “geared up for any nonsense to come.”
They’re already prepared to attack reporters. “Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” said the source, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to describe private conversations. “Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go.” (“It's the same thing we've been doing the last two years. We're going to hold the media accountable when we see fit,” an RNC official clarified, adding that this would include digital clips shared on social media.)
Earlier this week, Trump’s campaign previewed the in-your-face tactics they have in mind. A campaign official sent a letter to TV producers cautioning them against booking certain guests who had alleged that Trump colluded with Russia, including Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
“It’s not hard to figure where we’re going to go with this,” a current campaign official told The Atlantic. “We’re still in victory-lap mode, but it will turn into a message that [Democrats] will say or do anything to stop us from making America great again, including making up lies about the president and ruining a lot of people’s lives.”
White House officials suggested that the president has no plans to move on from the report because Democrats aren’t moving on. Instead, “they are doubling and tripling down,” says the White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
At some level, letting go would be out of character. From the first, Trump has personalized the presidency. He still obsesses over the crowd size at his inauguration, along with perceived betrayals from Senator John McCain of Arizona, who died last summer. The Mueller investigation shadowed Trump for nearly two years. Now that it’s over, he is indulging in a bit of triumphalism.
Again, and I can't stress this enough, in an America where journalists have been gunned down by Trump supporters, the Trump regime is ready to weaponize their base by directly and specifically targeting journalists and Democrats as traitors who must be dealt with.
This goes well beyond attacking political opponents. This is targeting journalists with political-style attack ads in order to stoke rage, rage that could very well be acted upon by an already wound-up group of people.
Trump is going to get more journalists hurt and killed until they stop criticizing him.