As Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives move forward with an impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump continues to insist that he did nothing wrong during his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — which found him trying to pressure a foreign leader to dig up political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Joe Biden as an apparent condition for military aid. Liberal Washington Post opinion writer Eugene Robinson, in his most recent column, describes Trump’s response to the Ukraine scandal as an example of “gaslighting,” but he stresses that it “won’t work with the Democratic leadership in the House.”
“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which victims are led to doubt the evidence of their senses and the soundness of their reason,” Robinson explains. “The term was coined in the 1930s, deriving from the title of a British play, but the practice is as old as human history. Trump apparently fancies himself a master of it.”
Robinson goes on outline the ways in which Trump uses this technique to his political advantage.
“He understands that repetition is one of the keys to making people believe something that is patently untrue,” Robinson observes. “That’s what he does with the derisive nicknames he gives to those he sees as standing in his way. He did it with ‘Crooked Hillary’ Clinton, despite the complete absence of evidence that she had committed any crime. He does it with the ‘fake news’ label he stamps on any story he doesn’t like. By saying something over and over, he implants the message.”
Robinson stresses that with the Ukraine scandal, his approach is to keep repeating his lies and distortions — no matter how ridiculous they are.
According to Robinson, Trump’s “only real talent” is that he is “an illusionist” — and that talent is a “considerable one.” But it won’t sway House Democrats from impeachment, Robinson asserts, because “the smoking-gun evidence against him” is so blatant.
Trump’s call with Ukraine was a clear abuse of power, he argues.
And, Robinson writes, “the gaslighting won’t work with the Democratic leadership in the House. Their outrage at the way Trump ignored U.S. national security interests and the will of Congress, in an attempt to leverage the production of dirt on a potential opponent in the coming election, is genuine.”
Robinson wraps up the column by quoting Trump’s exact words to Zelensky on July 25: “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” That favor, of course, was political dirt on Joe Biden and his son.
“Those ten words cut through all the fog Trump is trying to generate,” Robinson explains. “Say them as often as you can, and say them loud.”