On Wednesday morning Donald Trump was asked if Russia is still targeting U.S. elections with the intent of influencing future outcomes. He responded with a categorical "No." That, of course, contradicts his Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, who said Monday that Russia is still engaging in "ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy." That's Trump dismissing the intelligence community that he said on Tuesday has his "full faith and support."
With support like that the intelligence community might as well just lay down in front of the bus and grit their teeth. There appears to be no principle that Trump is not willing to subvert, even within hours of having asserted it. That must make it very hard for his supporters to know what the heck they are supposed to believe. Ordinarily, cult leaders like Trump stake out definitive positions that their disciples can latch onto and recite in unison at rallies. "Lock her up" and "build the wall" are effective examples of that. But there is no such chantable slogan about the Russia affair.
In the meantime, Trump's base (and I do mean base) is proving to be even more delusional than Trump himself. In a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, Republicans are siding with Vladimir Putin against American intelligence assessments with regard to whether Russia interfered with the 2016 election:
"A majority of registered voters, 59 percent, agree with the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to influence the U.S. election, the Reuters/Ipsos poll found. But only 32 percent of Republicans think that is true compared to 84 percent of Democrats."
So only a third of the Republicans in this survey agree with the U.S. government agencies that study this matter in their role as defenders of the nation. But what's even more surprising is that only a third of Republicans agree with Donald Trump, who now says that he agrees with the intelligence community.
To be fair, the Republican electorate can't possibly know what they are supposed to believe. Trump changes his position almost hourly. So they aren't getting the sort of cues that cult members are accustomed to. And lord knows that aren't capable of thinking for themselves. That leaves them scattering like frantic ants whose Capitol Hill has been washed away.
And that's why Trump's followers are infinitely more dangerous than Trump. He is one person who can (hopefully) be brought to justice and effectively neutralized. But his minions are less manageable and more unpredictable. They include NRA-theists and militias who are convinced of the existence of a "deep state" cabal determined to take their guns and throw them into gay-run, liberal, re-education camps. And they will align with any entity that strokes their egos and affirms their paranoid delusions. Especially if it features the sort of totalitarian control that makes them feel so cozy and pampered and safe. Which explains their affinity for Putin and Kim Jong Un - and Donald Trump.