Left-Wing ‘Historian’ Accuses Trump of ‘Treason,’ ‘Assault’ on Environment

Appearing on MSNBC’s 3 p.m. ET hour on Tuesday under the guise of being a “presidential historian,” left-wing pundit Douglas Brinkley accused President Trump and his associates – without evidence – of committing an act of “treason.” He went on rant that the President’s new executive order rolling back onerous Obama-era environmental regulations was “an assault on the public lands.”

Anchor Kate Snow started off the discussion by inviting Brinkley to elaborate on recent comments he made to the Washington Post about the administration betraying the country: “You told the Washington Post last week that, quote, ‘There’s a smell of treason in the air,’ when it comes to this [Russia] investigation. Why did you say that and has anything changed about your view in the last week?”

He was eager to double down on his incendiary and unsubstantiated claim:

Well, you know, a lot of people are afraid to use the T-word, treason, but in the end, that's what people are investigating. People talk about collusion with Russia, we’re talking about whether there are people that worked in the Trump campaign who meddled in an American election....you’re working for somebody who’s an adversary of ours, like Russia. That's treason.

Snow then played a soundbite from minutes earlier of Trump announcing an executive order “lifting job-killing restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, clean coal, and shale energy.” She turned back to Brinkley and referenced his new book on the environmental record of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “...if FDR were around today, what would he think of that?”

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Brinkley launched into a lengthy tirade:

He’d be aghast at it, as would Theodore Roosevelt, and anybody who loves conservation and the environment. I mean, this idea of – Donald Trump shopping this idea of clean coal, that’s like alternative fact. That's like “happy poison.” There’s no such thing as clean coal. We’ve been trying to wean ourselves off it for a while, and for good reasons. Smoke stack industries of America are choking people. We have respiratory illness in this country.

We’re trying to march forward in the 21st Century to keep our rivers and lakes and our landscape as FDR wanted it, as part of our rightful heritage. And this is just an assault on the public lands. We’ve seen it with Ronald Reagan, under James Watt in his first term as Secretary of Interior, and Watt went down in flames. Here you have Donald Trump beginning a process of trying to gut the budget of the EPA by 33% and shop it as jobs and clean coal.

Hoping to get her guest to slam Trump one more time, Snow wrapped up the exchange by lobbing another softball to Brinkley: “The New Deal happened in the first 100 days [of FDR’s administration], right? Refresh our memory of what happened in that first 100 days and how does that compare to what we’ve seen so far in Donald Trump’s first 100 days?”

Brinkley sneered: “Well, on a 1 to 10 scale, FDR’s 100 days was a 10 and Donald Trump’s is a zero.”

Talking to the Post on March 20, Brinkley went further, absurdly declaring that Trump had “the most failed first 100 days of any president.” “I don’t know how it can get much worse,” he added.

Oh really? Well, the Civil War started in the first 100 days of Abraham Lincoln’s administration. President William Henry Harrison was dead for 70 of his first 100 days after passing away just 30 days into his presidency. Perhaps an “historian” should know that.

Here is a full transcript of the March 28 segment:

3:08 PM ET

KATE SNOW: I want to turn over now to Douglas Brinkley, who’s an historian who’s with us, and get into a little bit of a deeper discussion about all this. You’ve got a new book out right now Douglas, right? Full Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and The Land of America. A lot of interesting stuff in that book that I want to talk to you, because I feel like it's relevant to the day and the moment in history that we’re in – you’re nodding along – that we’re in right now.

I want to start, though, with what we were just talking about, and that is the Russia investigation. You told the Washington Post last week that, quote, “There’s a smell of treason in the air,” when it comes to this investigation. Why did you say that and has anything changed about your view in the last week?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well, you know, a lot of people are afraid to use the T-word, treason, but in the end, that's what people are investigating. People talk about collusion with Russia, we’re talking about whether there are people that worked in the Trump campaign who meddled in an American election. And our free and fair elections are the heart and soul of our democracy.

And the very fact that on the day that I said that, FBI director Comey is saying that the President of the United States is under a federal criminal investigation. It was stunning news, it remains stunning news. And we don't want to try and act like that’s the new normal. If there’s ever any evidence that any American citizens are working to undermine the U.S. government or undermine our electoral system, it's a serious cause. And what that is, is you’re not working against America and you’re working for somebody who’s an adversary of ours, like Russia. That's treason.

SNOW: I want to talk a little about your book. And as I said, it's interesting that we're talking to you today, because as you write, a lot of President Franklin Roosevelt’s work was focused on the environment, on conservation, and we just had President Trump signing that executive order. If I can, I want to play a little bit more of what the President said about why he was signing that order to reverse environmental regulations.

DONALD TRUMP: And we’re going to have safety, we’re going to have clean water, we’re going to have clean air. But so many are unnecessary and so many are job-killing. We’re getting rid of the bad ones.

One after another, we are keeping our promises and putting power back into the hands of the people. First, today's energy independence action calls for immediate reevaluation of the so-called Clean Power Plan. Perhaps –

[APPLAUSE]

Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers, and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry.

Second, we are lifting the ban on federal leasing for coal production.

Third, we are lifting job-killing restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, clean coal, and shale energy.

And finally, we are returning power to the states where that power belongs. States and local communities know what is best for them. They understand it. They get it. They’ve been doing it for a long time. It was taken away from them and not handled well. And they are the ones that we should now, and will now, empower to decide.

My action today is the latest in a series of steps to create American jobs and to grow American wealth.

SNOW: Doug Brinkley, if FDR were around today, what would he think of that?

BRINKLEY: He’d be aghast at it, as would Theodore Roosevelt, and anybody who loves conservation and the environment. I mean, this idea of – Donald Trump shopping this idea of clean coal, that’s like alternative fact. That's like “happy poison.” There’s no such thing as clean coal. We’ve been trying to wean ourselves off it for a while, and for good reasons. Smoke stack industries of America are choking people. We have respiratory illness in this country.

We’re trying to march forward in the 21st Century to keep our rivers and lakes and our landscape as FDR wanted it, as part of our rightful heritage. And this is just an assault on the public lands. We’ve seen it with Ronald Reagan, under James Watt in his first term as Secretary of Interior, and Watt went down in flames. Here you have Donald Trump beginning a process of trying to gut the budget of the EPA by 33% and shop it as jobs and clean coal.

SNOW: I want to draw one more time on your role as a historian and FDR, because in his first 100 days there was a lot done. The New Deal happened in the first 100 days, right? Refresh our memory of what happened in that first 100 days and how does that compare to what we’ve seen so far in Donald Trump’s first 100 days?

BRINKLEY: Well, on a 1 to 10 scale, FDR’s 100 days was a 10 and Donald Trump’s is a zero. FDR in his beginning of the New Deal as president created, for example, this one program, Civilian Conservation Corp. From 1933 to 1942 unemployed men were hired a dollar a day and planned 3 billion trees all across America to green the country. FDR started the process of creating 800 state parks in his first days in office. He created things like the Tennessee Valley Authority to start doing hydro water conservation projects. So it was an extremely advanced and fertile period, the early New Deal. In fact, the whole idea of a hundred days rating is because FDR got an A-plus and everyone else is kind of compared to him.

SNOW: Doug Brinkley, always good to have your perspective. Thanks so much.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.  

SNOW: And the new book, by the way, is Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and The Land of America.

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