HOUSTON — In recent days, much has been said about Special Counsel John Durham’s court filings that haphazardly suggest operatives working for former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tried to “infiltrate” Trump tower. Regardless of the allegation’s validity, Trump predictably jumped all over it, with right-wing media and extremists following suit and milking the story for all its worth.
As Trump world explodes over the allegations of spying, the recent filing by Durham contains almost no new information. While Trump claims there is “indisputable evidence” that his campaign and presidency were spied on by “operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign,” the only crime Durham has accused anyone of committing is lying to the FBI—a charge that was leveled at Michael Sussman last year.
Sorry, guys. Despite Trump’s claims, it’s hardly proof of a conspiracy against him. Durham’s filing doesn’t allege any new criminal conduct. It does however refer to a conflict of interest in Durham’s case against Sussman, who worked at the law firm that represents the Democratic National Committee. Nothing in Durham’s filing indicates political espionage. Nada.
BREAKING: Donald Trump and the RNC funded SIGINT collection AGAINST the Executive Office of the President of the United States, just like the Russians do. This is TREASON!
Just kidding, it was Hillary Clinton and a big tech executive. Durham is coming.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 13, 2022
“The latest pleading from Special Counsel Robert Durham provides indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia,” said former President Trump in a statement on February 12. “This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.”
Lying to the FBI wouldn’t have been “punishable by death” in a “stronger period of time in this country,” but facts won’t stop far-right extremists from spreading this idiocy—especially not when they have Fox News to point to for source material.
The Dog Whistle
In all that foolishness comes the most laughable part of his word salad: the bit about reparations. Trump says reparations should be paid to those “who have been damaged” by the speculative conspiracy against him, and by “those” he presumably means a broader coalition than merely himself and his family.
Let’s be crystal clear here. When Trump says “reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this,” he’s victimizing his voters, 85 percent of whom are white. Donald Trump knows who he’s talking to, and they’ve made it abundantly clear that he speaks for them.
It’s also no accident that he threw “reparations” in there either. The typical extremist response to an issue they don’t want to discuss is to appropriate it and destroy its true meaning, such as the much-hyped by entirely imaginary phenomenon of “reverse racism.”
This kind of coded language forms part of the anatomy of a dog whistle. The people it’s directed to too often receive it without any doubt about its meaning. I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing more racists throwing around the word reparations around as if they’ve been wronged in some way. They already act like victims every chance they get, and so this seems to be their next illogical step.
But for now, I’m glad they’re focused on something as irrelevant as the Durham filing.
Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American father of three young men, an anti-racist, journalist, and publisher of The Antagonist Magazine. If you’d like to learn more about the issues covered here, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also support his work here and here.