At 8:15 am Wednesday, June 26th, 2019, Donald Trump gave an exclusive interview with Maria Bartiromo on Mornings with Maria which aired Fox Business discussing China, Europe, Vietnam, Iran, the crisis at the United States-Mexico border, and the internet conspiracy against conservatism. He also brought up the FBI “lovers” Strzok and Page who were terminated from the special counsel by Robert Mueller, but not before their phones were wiped of information that the FBI was unable to retrieve.

This morning, Trump gave an exclusive interview on Fox Business to Maria Bartiromo, which glossed over most of the usual talking points including three current hot topics: China, Iran, and the crisis on the United States-Mexico border. He also touched on the 2016 news involving Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI employees on the special council who engaged in an extramarital affair and in their private messages were anti-Trump. When Robert Mueller found out, they were fired but before their messages were able to be reviewed, their phones were wiped of information. Trump used the term “terminated.” 

When requests were sent to Verizon for the rest of their correspondence, the company responded that after seven days deleted messages were unretrievable. The messages that were read show no evidence of a larger conspiracy, only two FBI employees infuriated by Trump’s policies. Strzok and Page were also involved in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. For Trump, this is crucial evidence of a conspiracy against him and of spying on his 2016 election campaign. Was the wiping of their phones an illegal act or simply protection of information pertaining to an ongoing investigation? No one seems to be stepping up to provide a clear answer, but perhaps Mueller’s testimony will provide answers both Democrats and Republicans need.

Spying on Elections in Context

So far, the largest scandal of spying on elections and presidents is the Watergate scandal of President Nixon’s reelection campaign. The Washington Post’s article exposing the scandal changed the way intelligence agencies in the United States work with presidents and election campaigns. For now, it seems that all of the alleged spying of the Trump campaign has something to do with the Russia collusion investigation, which was directly connected to senior members of the Trump campaign. Of course, many use this as evidence that there was spying in the Trump campaign by the United States intelligence agencies. 

There are also claims that Obama “bugged” Trump and ordered people to spy on him, for which no evidence was found. It might be reasonable to say that since Obama was in charge of these agencies at the time that he ordered them to “spy” on the Trump campaign. However, there is no concrete evidence to back up these claims and it would be extremely difficult for a sitting president to order any intelligence agencies to spy on another campaign. Not only does it look bad politically, but post-Watergate laws enacted would contribute to making that interference extremely difficult. 

However, it is proven that Donald Trump loves a conspiracy. He hypes up this Mueller investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice as another way for the “deep state” to spy on his campaign. 

For anyone who loves a good conspiracy and does not trust the government, this convenient twisting of facts works. The problem is that he is not entirely wrong, but not at all right. Nothing that he said so far is supported by any concrete facts available as of now. 

The intelligence agencies of the United States were ordered to investigate the threat of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the threat to democracy. While Russia was not the only country to try to influence the 2016 election, they did make a significant impact, perhaps the largest of any election in the history of the United States. When that led to some senior advisors of the Trump campaign, the investigation into Trump and his campaign began in earnest and in the interest of the democracy of the United States. 

Mueller’s Testimony on July 17th

His mentioning of the Strzok and Page controversy was another way to complain about Robert Mueller’s agreeing to testify after being issued a subpoena. The news has speculated since Mueller’s testifying was confirmed which major political party will benefit more from Mueller’s testimony. 

Robert Mueller already stated that he will not divulge anything beyond what is already in the report, a four hundred page document of which much is redacted. As actor Robert DeNiro pointed out, who plays Robert Mueller in comedy sketches on SNL, most people do not understand the nuances or are willing to read the Mueller report. Mueller’s testimony will provide the people of the United States with the clarity they deserve. However, what the testimony will prove is which major political party asks the best question to steer the narrative to Trump’s innocence and a broader “deep state” conspiracy or his guilt. 

The testimony is going to be a test of wills between the two parties. How democracy prevails will rely on the Democrats asking the tough questions to Mueller and not underestimating the Republicans. People depict the subpoena of Mueller as a win for the Democrats as if with this testimony is the thing that will finally force an impeachment proceeding. 

However, many Republicans are unfazed by the news, seeing it as an opportunity to further Donald Trump’s narrative of conspiracy. This testimony is not about facts, it is about twisting the facts to create a truth. Trump is already trying to steer the narrative one way with the public, but only time will tell what the truth becomes. Either way, Trump was right when he said on Mornings with Maria this morning that this could be the “biggest political scandal in history.”

Margaret Valenti

Margaret Valenti is the Editor of Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today.