Former President Donald Trump sued former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday because, according to him, she wrongly linked him to Russia’s Trump-friendly election interference during his run against Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Earlier in the week, Clinton announced she’d tested positive for Covid. Laughing can be painful during a respiratory illness, but one could guess she’d gladly bear it for this joke of a lawsuit. The Washington Post reports that her spokesperson, Nick Merrill, responded to Trump’s suit in a statement that was a single word long: “Nonsense.”
Neither Trump nor the party should wish to return to 2016 unless the goal is for voters to remember Trump’s repeated fawning over Russian President Vladimir Putin.
To the extent that there remain sensible Republicans who want to move forward, attract more voters and have something more to say than “Trump is great,” Trump has just ruined their plans and signaled that he, the unelected leader of the Republican Party, is fixated on the past. But neither Trump nor the party should wish to return to 2016 unless the goal is for voters to remember Trump’s repeated fawning over Russian President Vladimir Putin and his public plea to Russia to hurt Clinton’s campaign.
Naming 47 people as defendants, Thursday’s lawsuit begins with typical Trumpian hyperbole: “Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot … that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy. ... Defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that … Donald J. Trump was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.” It was a plot so outrageous, Trump claims, that “even the events of Watergate pale in comparison.”
Lest you believe it was outrageous to suspect Trump of collaborating with Russia, led by a dictator he’d fawned over and described as “highly respected within his own country and beyond” in a report of almost 1,000 pages, a Republican-led U.S. Senate committee concluded Russia used Paul Manafort, a former chairman of Trump’s campaign, and Wikileaks to boost his chances in 2016.
Nothing Clinton said about Trump counts as an affront to democracy. Nor is it the case that Trump even cares about affronts to democracy. He defended the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and more than seven months after that was reportedly still lobbying for a way back inside the White House.
Trump’s win in 2016 got him four years as arguably the most powerful and catered-to person on the planet. But not even that heaping spoonful of sugar was sweet enough to help him move past the bitterness of being linked to Russia, at least not when Russia’s character is more fully on display. Trump is temperamentally incapable of moving on. But what’s worse for the GOP is Trump’s demand that the party remain as stuck in the past as he is and his willingness to punish even his sycophants who dare to look ahead.
Fewer elected officials have worked harder to keep Trump’s ego pumped up and fully inflated than Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. He’s a devoted spreader of the lie that Trump won in 2020 and was the Jan. 6 hype man who told a crowd at the Ellipse that "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking a--!” Even so, Trump summarily rescinded his endorsement of Brooks this week. And his stated reason is as laughable as the lawsuit against Clinton.
Fewer elected officials have worked harder to keep Trump’s ego pumped up and fully inflated than Rep. Mo Brooks.
At a campaign rally seven months ago, Brooks said, “There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud and election theft of 2020. Folks, put that behind you. Put that behind you. Yes, look forward! Look forward! Look forward! Beat them in 2022! Beat them in 2024!”
That’s it. That’s the offense. Even though Brooks faithfully lied about the election being stolen, he asked Republicans to move on, and Wednesday, 212 days later, Trump issued a statement: "Mo Brooks of Alabama made a horrible mistake recently when he went 'woke' and stated, referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, 'Put that behind you, put that behind you.' I am hereby withdrawing my Endorsement of Mo Brooks for the Senate."
In his own statement Wednesday, Brooks decided to show the world just how high on his own supply Trump is. “President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House and hold a new special election for the presidency." This ridiculous demand was made more than seven months after Biden’s inauguration, Brooks told NBC News.
If you keep repeating the lie that elections are rigged, then you might discourage your supporters from voting. That may be why Democrats secured a majority in the Senate in 2020. Weeks after President Joe Biden defeated Trump, two Democrats prevailed in Georgia in an election that Trump had said would certainly be rigged against the GOP.
There’s reason to believe that Trump is lying about why he’s withdrawing support from Brooks. The last two Senate candidates in Alabama he put his weight behind lost, and poll results suggest that Brooks would be the third. And Trump, we all know, is a winner. He hates losers. Except, of course, when he’s the loser.
And it’s just as likely that Trump has filed an unwinnable lawsuit against Clinton as part of another fundraising appeal that will separate suckers from their money.
But neither of those alternative explanations changes the fact that Trump is declaring to Republicans where their focus should be. The next elections are not to be about looking forward. They should be only about avenging Trump.