According to contemporary Justice Department notes taken at the end of Donald Trump’s tenure, the then president directly and repeatedly berated his top federal law enforcement officials for supporting his electoral fraud lies. But when they failed to support his anti-democratic crusade, Trump resorted to accusing his top DOJ officials of not being as extremely online as he was.
For starters, he berated them for not reading enough of The Gateway Pundit.
“You may not be following the internet the way I do,” President Trump told Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue in a phone conversation on Dec. 27, according to the documents. recently published from the Department of Justice.
During months of Trump and Republicans, and sometimes deadly, the blitz to undo President Joe Biden’s decisive victory in the 2020 election, the 45th US President and his allies consumed and regurgitated a lot of junk information and conspiracy theories. rampages of “the Internet.” “And one of the websites Trump specifically cited was the far-right and usually bogus Gateway Pundit; the president was known to occasionally wave print pages of the website around the West Wing after the 2020 election.
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Gateway Pundit’s small role in Trump’s efforts to arm the DOJ against the US electoral process underscores how easily a discredited far-right media site established a pipeline to decision-making from the then most powerful person on Earth. It also shows how this website – founded by a guy repeatedly dubbed “the dumbest man on the internet” – managed to play a role in the efforts that brought the country to the brink of democratic breakdown.
According to a former senior Trump official in the White House and another person with first-hand knowledge of the matter, in the last few weeks of his presidency, administration officials have repeatedly seen Trump holding printed pages of articles from Gateway Pundit to the White House, sometimes in the Oval Office. The former senior official recalled a case where Trump handed them a page printed from the website, which absurdly alleged massive fraud in favor of Biden, and told the official to find out more and do something thing about it.
“I really haven’t done anything about it,” the former official told The Daily Beast. “I think I threw it away. Maybe I recycled it.
During the last few months of the Trump administration, senior officials were accustomed to receiving questionable documents, sometimes presented personally to Trump himself, which they then rejected or ignored altogether. In January, for example, Trump’s friend and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell met with the outgoing president in the Oval Office to show him six pages of baseless conspiracy theories about China and other foreign governments rigging elections. for Biden.
At the time, Lindell told the Daily Beast that he also attempted to share the documents with other senior White House officials, who quickly dismissed the theories and banned him from seeing Trump again that day. But during his brief meeting with Trump in the Oval, Lindell said he told the then president the documents were “all over the Internet.”
But other members of Trump’s inner circle were more obliging to take advantage of the government apparatus to pursue weird, internet-based conspiracy theories that had drifted into Trump’s field of vision. In a notorious incident, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows called on the Justice Department to follow up on “Italygate,” a sci-fi conspiracy theory developed by Trump supporters that argued that Italian military satellites had been used to change the votes on the US vote. Machines.
The Gateway Pundit, for its part, was another part of how Trump “tracked the internet” in the days before a DOJ official took notes of his conversations with the Commander-in-Chief. Just a week before that phone call, Trump was absorbing election coverage from The Gateway Pundit and promoting it to his millions of followers.
A piece amplified by Trump in late December falsely claimed that alleged statistical anomalies in Arizona’s vote count represented evidence of voter fraud. The same argument sparked a tweet from Trump when The Gateway Pundit used the wrong total for nationwide voter turnout in the 2020 election to claim that Biden and Trump’s vote totals were insanely high.
The former game show host also promoted a Gateway Pundit article with allegations of a debunked forensic report conducted in a lawsuit challenging County Antrim’s vote count, in Michigan.
The site has been regularly cited and prosecuted as a source of disinformation on a range of topics. Twitter has suspended the media’s account and that of its founder, Jim Hoft, for spreading false information about the February election. In November 2019, Wikipedia included the site in its list of untrusted sources that publishers should not trust. The site is known to have falsely accused Democrats or Trump’s critics of violating acts of mass violence, as it did in a shootout at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, California. Florida, and the White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The latter brought Hoft to trial when his site falsely claimed that a State Department diplomat “organized” an attack on anti-racist protesters. The trial is still ongoing.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, the site was particularly close to the Trump campaign’s legal team as it attempted to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. In early December 2020, The Gateway Pundit released a conspiratorial internal report from the Trump campaign legal team falsely presenting Dominion Voting Systems as a suspicious company with ties to Venezuela. The report was sent to Trump’s legal team by an assistant to Trump’s senior business adviser Peter Navarro, former Trump legal adviser Bernard Kerik told the Daily Beast in March.
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