MSNBC Freak-Out: Democracy ‘Crumbling’ as Trump Follows ‘Dictator’s Playbook’

Even as MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday tried to dismiss the FISA memo alleging political bias at the FBI as an “empty vault,” during the 11:00 a.m. ET hour, co-anchors Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle portrayed the release of the document as a threat to democracy and fretted with their guests that President Trump was employing the “dictator’s playbook” by criticizing the Russia investigation.

After fretting over how the President “mocked” Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff in an early morning tweet, Ruhle feared: “But what if the President refuses to release the Democrat memo, now that he’s thrown that out there about Adam Schiff?” Former Assistant Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks warned: “It means nothing, because to me, it is obvious that if they do not release the Democratic memo, it only confirms that this is a partisan horrible memo...”

 

 

Paraphrasing The Washington Post’s tag line, Wine-Banks implored: “The truth has to come out in some form....In darkness is where democracy dies, and we need the full truth. The omissions from the document that has been released so far are very blatant and it has to be corrected.”

Ruhle worried: “But isn’t that the risk? If darkness is where democracy dies, and that’s where we are, are we not on the brink of our democracy possibly crumbling?”

Minutes later, the host mourned how “crushing” it was for the administration to criticize the FBI. Velshi chimed in: “It’s creepy, it’s terrible.” Ruhle added: “Vladimir Putin is riding a horse topless in Russia laughing right now.”

Velshi then made the leap to arguing Trump was on the verge of becoming an authoritarian leader: “There’s a history to this kind of behavior by leaders who just systematically go after institutions, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and things like that. It doesn’t – it doesn’t end well.” Ruhle urged: “We’ve gotta stand up.”

In a later segment, Velshi kept up his argument:

And recently I have been re-reading a lot of history from sort of the 1920s through to the 1950s....just to remind myself of the scourge on the Earth and danger of dictatorial regimes who often get there initially by undermining the press, undermining the judiciary, and undermining the apparatus of government....This is a tried and true way of, you know, making people really doubt their institutions and their government and their courts.

Terrorism Analyst Malcolm Nance was eager to join in the fearmongering, as he launched into a tirade:

I find this absolutely fascinating because the things that Donald Trump does, the way that he acts, and his attacks on the institutions of the United States government, these are not new. They are new for the United States, but for those of us who are skilled in this area, especially in intelligence, we recognize this. This comes from the dictator’s playbook. And the dictator’s playbook is just nothing but a series of activities that people around the world, despots use, in order to get the heat off of themselves.

Wrapping up the discussion, he later declared that freedom of all Americans was at risk of being “snuffed out” by Trump.

It should be noted that, in 2017, Nance “nominated” a Trump property in Turkey for an “ISIS suicide bombing.”   

The media can’t seem to decide if the release of FISA Memo was a “nothing burger” or the greatest threat to democracy in U.S. history.

Here are excerpts of the February 5 coverage from Velshi and Ruhle:

(...)    

11:10 AM ET

RUHLE: A few hours ago, President Trump, before 8:00 a.m., mocked the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, calling him, quote, “little Adam Schiff,” which is typical Trump, but he accused him of being “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington and saying Schiff “must be stopped.” And the President didn’t elaborate. But what if the President refuses to release the Democrat memo, now that he’s thrown that out there about Adam Schiff? And again, that’s red meat for President Trump’s base. But what does it mean?

JILL WINE-BANKS [FMR. ASSISTANT WATERGATE PROSECUTOR]: It means nothing, because to me, it is obvious that if they do not release the Democratic memo, it only confirms that this is a partisan horrible memo that is intended not to create oversight of the FBI, not intended to inform the American public, but simply to serve the needs of Donald Trump to protect him from the truth.

The truth has to come out in some form. It is a dilemma for the Democrats, but it should be a dilemma for the Republicans, who should stop toadying up to the President and supporting him. They need to be strong enough to let this memo out. In darkness is where democracy dies, and we need the full truth. The omissions from the document that has been released so far are very blatant and it has to be corrected.

RUHLE: But isn’t that the risk? If darkness is where democracy dies, and that’s where we are, are we not on the brink of our democracy possibly crumbling?

(...)

11:14 AM ET

RUHLE: It’s not kind of crazy, it’s kind of crushing.

VELSHI: It’s creepy, it’s terrible.

RUHLE: Vladimir Putin is riding a horse topless in Russia laughing right now.

VELSHI: There’s a history to this kind of behavior by leaders who just systematically go after institutions, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and things like that. It doesn’t – it doesn’t end well.

RUHLE: We’ve gotta stand up.

(...)

11:23 AM ET

VELSHI: And recently I have been re-reading a lot of history from sort of the 1920s through to the 1950s.

RUHLE: Are you reading documents again? Documents.

VELSHI: Well, just to remind myself of the scourge on the Earth and danger of dictatorial regimes who often get there initially by undermining the press, undermining the judiciary, and undermining the apparatus of government. Malcolm, this is more than just a current thing. This is a tried and true way of, you know, making people really doubt their institutions and their government and their courts.

MALCOLM NANCE [MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST]: I find this absolutely fascinating because the things that Donald Trump does, the way that he acts, and his attacks on the institutions of the United States government, these are not new. They are new for the United States, but for those of us who are skilled in this area, especially in intelligence, we recognize this. This comes from the dictator’s playbook. And the dictator’s playbook is just nothing but a series of activities that people around the world, despots use, in order to get the heat off of themselves.

The Russians were the masters of this. Vladimir Putin – I’ve joked from time to time that it appears that the White House has a Pentagon – I’m sorry, a Kremlin political warfare assistance team working in there to show him point by point how Vladimir Putin did this. First you attack the media, you disassemble it. Then you attack all – anyone who can investigate corruption, you blackmail them and you get them out of office. And then you’re in charge of the government.

(...)

11:27 AM ET

NANCE: One last point. Behind me in this building, there is, across the street, a cemetery. And there is a statue of George Washington that reads above it, “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness.” That is the sacrifice that these people have made, whether it’s at the CIA or the officers of the Bureau, they are not giving their lives in order to allow Americans’ freedom to be snuffed out, no matter who is in office.

(...)


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CyberAlerts Conservatives & Republicans MSNBC Video Ali Velshi Stephanie Ruhle Donald Trump Malcolm Nance