Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the W.L. Zorn Arena Nov. 1, 2016 in Eau Claire, Wis. 
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Team Trump won’t let facts get in the way of anti-Clinton story

Your Republican uncle who watches Fox all day might have emailed you the other day, alerting you to a big scoop: the FBI was “likely” to issue an indictment as part of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. In fact, your uncle’s note probably included a question such as, “Why aren’t other news outlets covering this?”

The answer, it turns out, is because the report was wrong. Several news organizations, including NBC News, quickly discredited Fox’s report, and Bret Baier apologized on the air this morning for his mistaken reporting.

There are plenty of questions surrounding this incident – we don’t know, for example, who gave Fox the bogus information – but in the short term, it’s important to appreciate the fact that Donald Trump and his team have decided to believe Fox’s debunked claims and they’re inclined to keep treating fiction as fact.

This morning, for example, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), a Trump surrogate, suggested that repeating a false claim that the campaign knows to be false is acceptable behavior. When CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked the congresswoman for proof, Ellmers said, “I’m hearing about it. I don’t really have all that many connections and yet I’m hearing about the investigation.”

Of course, “hearing about” lies doesn’t make them true.

Similarly, on MSNBC last night, Brian Williams asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway whether Trump will walk back his claims about the Fox report, now that everyone including Fox knows the claims are wrong. She didn’t answer directly, instead saying, “Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton…. It just doesn’t change what’s in voters’ minds right now.”

Don’t brush past this too quickly. This was the campaign manager for a presidential campaign telling a national television audience that her team spread bogus information – and she doesn’t really care, because some people are believing falsehoods.

Conway’s boss appears to care even less. TPM reported today:
“The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment,” Trump said, “However, the report also showed that the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying as hard as it can to protect their angel, Hillary Clinton.”

“She’s likely to be under investigation for a long time, concluding with a criminal trial. Unprecedented,” he said later.

Trump appeared to be referring to a Wednesday night report from Fox News’ Brett Baier, who said that FBI sources told him the investigation “will continue to likely an indictment.”
Note, Trump said all of this this afternoon. By the time the Republican delivered these remarks, the candidate and his aides knew Fox’s report was wrong; knew Fox had walked back its reporting; and knew that Clinton isn’t facing an indictment.

But Trump told supporters the exact opposite anyway.

There’s occasional speculation about whether or not Trump knows what he’s saying is false. Is he profoundly ignorant, saying ridiculous things he believes to be true, or is intentionally deceiving the public, repeating shameless lies?

Today offers compelling evidence of the latter.