In the hours leading up to an especially pivotal day in his presidency — the House begins public impeachment hearings Wednesday morning — President Donald Trump indulged in an epic Fox News binge.
Trump started watching Lou Dobbs on Fox Business sometime around 7:30 pm last night. He later flipped the channel over to Fox News to catch Sean Hannity’s show. Then, this morning, he began his day with Fox & Friends.
How do we know this? Because Trump provided commentary for each of the shows he watched on Twitter. He altogether posted 12 tweets quoting or tagging Fox News personalities over about a 12-hour stretch. And with one exception — a Dobbs-inspired post spreading misleading figures about crimes committed by DACA recipients — all of Trump’s Fox News-inspired tweets railed against the impeachment hearing.
None of them made a very convincing case. Trump, citing Dobbs, urged people to read the White House summary of his fateful July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — a document that fueled the impeachment proceeding by indicating Trump used military aid to Ukraine as leverage for political favors:
“This ridiculous Impeachment is a travesty, it’s not an inquiry. Just read the transcript.” @LouDobbs— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2019
Trump then posted a string of tweets quoting a Hannity rant in which he called the Democrat leading the impeachment inquiry — Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) — “compromised” and a “coward.” (Ad hominem attacks are a logical fallacy.)
“The circus is coming to town. The corrupt, compromised, coward & congenital liar Adam Schiff Show on Capital Hill, brought to you by his raging psychotic Democrats & the top allies in the Media Mob. Everything you’re going to see in the next two weeks is rigged.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2019
“Sean the amazing warrior!” Trump tweeted in tribute to Hannity at the end of the thread.
Trump wasn’t done heaping abuse on Schiff. In his string of tweets responding to Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning, Trump attacked Schiff as “corrupt” and criticized the procedure the House voted to follow for the hearings. Citing host Steve Doocy, Trump falsely accused Democrats of “leaking out everything” when in fact they released hearing transcripts that were vetted by lawyers and broadly corroborate a government whistleblower’s account of how Trump abused his office during his dealings with Ukraine.
To close out his Fox News binge, Trump, citing commentary from Charles Hurt, suggested he did nothing wrong because Ukraine ultimately received the aid he withheld. But that talking point ignores the fact that aid was only released after the CIA’s top lawyer reportedly made a criminal referral to the DOJ about the July Trump-Zelensky phone call and on the same day House Democrats announced they were opening an inquiry into the matter. If you get caught robbing a bank and decide to leave the cash and make a break for it, that doesn’t mean you didn’t do anything wrong.
Not only do Trump’s tweets indicate that he’s indulging himself in friendly propaganda at a moment of crisis for his presidency, but they illustrate how both he and his defenders have struggled to develop a coherent defense of his conduct.
Even Trump seems less than satisfied. After he finished watching Fox News on Wednesday morning, he posted all caps tweets yelling, without any context, about “NEVER TRUMPERS!” and “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!”