NYT's Maggie Haberman explains why Trump is trying to set up a new distraction
President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN that the former President Donald Trump's social media lawsuit is really nothing more than a ruse to get people to focus on his alleged victimhood instead of accusations that he cheated on his taxes.

Speaking Thursday, CNN host John Berman noted that at the same time that this press conference was finishing, a slew of Trump fundraising pitches went out. It made him think that none of this was real and it was just a scheme to make money.

"Usually serious lawsuits are not accompanied by a fundraising solicitation that goes out simultaneously," said Haberman. "As with most things involving Donald Trump, there is some money component involved. I think that's definitely a piece of it. I think the second piece is that this is frankly something of a distraction that he's trying to set up after his company was indicted last week by the Manhattan district attorney and as his CFO was indicted by the Manhattan district attorney. This is a go-to move of his going back to the early 1970s. if you get sued or in some legal trouble, you counter sue in some way. He's not able to counter sue the Manhattan D.A. this is what he's aiming the punch at."

Haberman also noted that this lawsuit has already been tried in court. In fact, BuzzFeed justice reporter Zoe Tillman explained that Trump's whole lawsuit is a kind of mish-mash of other lawsuits that failed.

The most irrational thing to Haberman is the claim that these social media companies are some kind of state actor suppressing free speech. They're private companies with rules that users agree to upfront when they join the sites and agree to the terms of service.

"Donald Trump was president when he was kicked off, so in theory, he was the government," Haberman also said. "So, there's a lot about the argument made in this lawsuit that doesn't quite make sense. It's an issue that plays well with conservatives. I think that's part of why he's doing it."

Berman showed a photo of Trump from the event and the podium that contained a kind of official seal-looking-graphic on the front saying "The Office of Donald Trump."

"Trying to project the image that he is the president," Berman said. "I mean, am I wrong to look at this and say this is a deliberate effort going on here?"

Haberman agreed, saying that everything Trump produces now plays up that he is the 45th president and doesn't say "the former president."

"His staff still calls him 45," she said. "You know, very frequently. That's not unusual to have a president's staff do that. Obama's staff calls him 44. But the fact that they put out these statements being so aggressive this way is very notable. There is this whether it's because it makes him feel good or conveys strength or tries to imply that he is not diminished on stage. He's trying to project this 'I'm still in power' image. And he's not — to be clear."

Berman cited Trump's trip to the border as being part of an effort to make it seem like he's still president. He wondered if this is part of the August attempt to retake the presidency, where there is a fear that there will be violence.

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