People For the American Way

This week in “Trumptastrophe”: Trump’s reliance on lies and conspiracies to advance his MAGA agenda

News and Analysis
This week in “Trumptastrophe”: Trump’s reliance on lies and conspiracies to advance his MAGA agenda

Welcome to our weekly “Trumptastrophe” series, that will serve to remind us all of the destructive policies, decisions, and actions we encountered during the Trump presidency and the threats that he and others in the MAGA movement still pose – and to keep those moments clear in our memory as we fight to defeat Republican extremists during the upcoming elections.

This week’s recap brings into focus Trump’s tendency to promote conspiracy theories or create outright lies in order to advance his MAGA agenda – while viciously attacking any person or media outlet that dare to question him:

On Nov. 28, 2018, the president of the United States apparently had nothing better to do than retweet a bunch of far-right propaganda, including a call for various political opponents and law enforcement officials to be put on trial for treason. Among those he sought to punish were former President Barack Obama, former Sen. Hillary Clinton, and then-serving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

ABC News noted at the time that Trump’s retweets of an account calling itself The Trump Train came after he had tweeted his own screed claiming without evidence that investigators were “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts” as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

A week earlier, the New York Times had reported on Trump pressuring the Justice Department to go after Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, in what the Times called “one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr. Trump views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies.”

Trump’s post-Thanksgiving propaganda fest, his habit of accusing political opponents of the capital offense of treason, and his desire to use the federal government as a bludgeon against his political opponents remind us that he is far too dangerous to be given the power of the presidency a second time:

  • As we have noted before, the truth means nothing to Trump. He lies constantly about matters large and small. He continues to repeat lies long after they have been debunked. He demands that his supporters accept and promote his lies about the election, which is a tool of fascist dictators.
  • Trump and his allies have frequently accused his political opponents of treason. He repeatedly called the investigation of connections between his campaign and the Russian government a “treasonous hoax.” He’s even applied the term to media coverage he considered unfair. Axios commented in 2019, “Treason is one of the most serious crimes an American can commit, and is punishable by death. The president freely using the term to attack his political enemies, without evidence, is not normal.”
  • This September, Trump railed against Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, for “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!” Milley’s offense? Making phone calls at the direction of other administration officials to assure China that Trump was not preparing to attack them in the final months of the administration, the New Republic reported.
  • Trump’s willingness to repeat dangerous lies—like the stolen election claims that led to the insurrection and undermined millions of Americans’ faith in our elections—and charge his opponents with treason is particularly alarming when combined with his intense eagerness to turn the power of the Justice Department into a weapon for personal revenge. As The Washington Post recently noted, Trump “has made ‘retribution’ a central theme of his campaign.”
  • The threat to eliminate the independence of the Justice Department is just part of the broader scheming by Trump allies and former Trump officials involved with Project 2025 to impose total Trump control over the federal government. In the words of Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an NYU professor and author of a book about strongmen in modern history, “He wants to convert American democracy into some kind of autocracy.”
  • Trump will be even more dangerous now that the Speaker of the House is Mike Johnson, an ardent loyalist who, at Trump’s urging, organized an amicus brief signed by more than 100 House Republicans in support of a case brought by the Texas attorney general seeking to overturn the 2020 election. Johnson has declared himself “all in” for Trump in 2024, telling CNBC recently, “I was one of the closest allies that President Trump had in Congress. He had a phenomenal first term.”  Since then, Johnson has met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Given how aggressively Trump’s allies in the House have already resisted holding him accountable, a President Trump and Speaker Johnson would be a dangerous double threat to democracy.

These are just some of the reasons we need YOU in this fight. So, find your favorite way to unwind after reading through this week’s recap, and then make a plan for how you will fight back THIS week, this MONTH, this election cycle.


Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Mike Johnson