Over the weekend, President Donald Trump sent this tweet:
“Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”
Who is Jennifer Williams, you ask? She must be one of those Republicans who fought against Trump’s election and has refused to acknowledge that he is even President, right?
Williams is a State Department employee who is currently detailed to Vice President Mike Pence’s staff as a a special adviser to the vice president for Europe and Russia. She was handpicked for her current role by Keith Kellogg, the vice president’s national security adviser. (Her transgression? She testified behind closed doors that she found Trump’s behavior on the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “unusual and inappropriate.”)
So if Williams is part of the “Never Trump” movement — and, to be clear, there is ZERO evidence she is — then she has a lot of people, including the vice president of the United States, fooled.
But here’s what is even more amazing: This is far from the first time Trump has referred to someone who simply says something he doesn’t like as a “Never Trumper.”
Less than two hours before Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and State Department employee George Kent publicly testified last week in front of the House Intelligence Committee, Trump tweeted: “NEVER TRUMPERS!”
In neither case is there any evidence of Never Trumperism in their backgrounds. As CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Tara Subramaniam noted, Taylor has served in every administration since 1985. And Kent is a lifelong diplomat, having served in posts in Poland, Thailand and, yes, Ukraine. Both men were chosen for their current jobs by Trump appointees.
When National Security Council Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman testified that he had recommended certain things be added to the rough transcript of the July 25 call that were not ultimately added, Trump suggested he was a “Never Trumper” and added: “Why didn’t the lieutenant colonel say that he wrote a letter to the White House with certain little comments about the phone call?” Later, when asked for evidence of Vindman’s “Never Trump” status, Trump said cryptically: “We’ll be showing that to you real soon, OK?”
That was on November 3. Trump has yet to produce that evidence.
So is Vindman a “Never Trumper?” He is not! Or at least there is nothing in his public record (or the public record) to suggest that. What is in his public record? Military service in Iraq. A Purple Heart after being injured by shrapnel from an IED. A long career serving as an expert in Eurasia.
The pattern here is clear: The President of the United States is alleging (and alleging and alleging) that members of his administration are actually covertly opposed to him. Because they are critical of the way (or a way) in which he has conducted himself in office. He offers no proof for these wild claims because, primarily, none exists.
The goal is simple. Muddy the waters with false accusations that are impossible to fully disprove. Rely on your loyal base to back you up no matter what the facts say. The damage to hard-earned personal reputations you do along the way? That’s not your concern.
“The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Watch out for them, they are human scum!”
So, yeah. We’ll keep a look out, Mr. President.