A new ad for President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign is being widely denounced for including a totally “fabricrated” lie about Democratic rival Joe Biden and comes just days after House Democrats launched an official impeachment inquiry into the president over his exchange with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine earlier this year and allegations the White House has engaged in a “massive cover-up” to avoid the full truth from emerging.
“The allegation in this ad is made up. Fabricated.”—Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)Posted online late Friday night and then pinned to the top of his Twitter account, Trump included the new campaign ad—which flagrantly mischaracterizes a story about former vice president Biden, his son Hunter, and Ukraine from 2015—while declaring, “I am draining the swamp.”
According to Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, the video is part of a new $10 million ad buy, including $2 million kicked in by the Republican National Committee.
As law requires, Trump’s voice played over the final moment of the ad, issued by his 2020 reelection campaign, with the message: “I’m Donald Trump and I approved this message.”
As is true of many falsehoods put forth by Trump, however, the false and misleading claims against Biden and his son are based on unfounded conspiracy theories circulating within the right-wing echo chamber. And the president’s insistence on spreading them—given all the available documentation and reporting—appears like willful deceit on the part of his campaign.
For Trump followers and Republican supporters, however, it very much appeared successful. Just a quick perusal of right-wing responses to the video included these reactions and countless more like them: “The mainstream media establishment cannot be trusted to report the facts.”; “Do not EVER take down this pinned tweet please. God bless President Trump.”; and “Please retweet. Many Americans still don’t know how corrupt the democrats are.”
Meanwhile, those who understand the actual facts around the case, experienced the campaign ad in a wholly different way.
“Not positive,” tweeted journalist Judd Legum in response, “but I think this is the world’s first political ad that brags about committing an impeachable offense.”
But the major issue with the ad? It’s entire premise is a big—and very easily discredited—lie. And while not surprising, the new ad, especially as it comes on the heals of House Democrats’ announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry into the president earlier this week, offers a glimpse of how Trump will run his 2020 campaign – whether its against Biden or any other candidate.
Among those journalists who have rebuffed the right-wing narrative about the Biden-Ukraine story is investigative reporter James Risen, previously of the New York Times and now with The Intercept, who—back in 2015—was among the first to explore the story involving Biden when he was Vice President, the work of his son Hunter Biden, and a Ukraine gas company.
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