Donald Trump’s former homeland security adviser went on television Sunday to say that Trump had bought into a claim about Ukraine that is “not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked.”
Trump’s obsession with a DNC server he believes to be in Ukraine comes out of a conspiracy theory in which Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC, and, according to former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, Trump has been repeatedly told it’s false, but “[Rudy Giuliani] and the legal team is [...] repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again.” To Bossert, Trump is apparently a passive victim of Giuliani, meekly led astray by his legal team, versus someone eagerly grabbing onto politically convenient stories without caring about reality.
Other former aides gave The New York Times similar accounts of Giuliani’s influence on Trump’s embrace of a debunked conspiracy theory. “Mr. Trump was more willing to listen to outside advisers like Mr. Giuliani than his own national security team,” the Times reports, and a former aide said that Giuliani would “feed Trump all kinds of garbage,” which was “a real problem for all of us.” It’s also a problem, of course, that Trump gleefully eats the garbage he’s being fed.
Trump refuses to keep in his mind the reality that Russia interfered in the 2016 election: “The president would accept it after speaking with his more grounded aides, [a former senior official] said, but then revert to believing it was a plot by Democrats or Ukrainians or others after speaking with associates outside the administration like Mr. Giuliani.” Again, that’s on Trump, who is a grown-ass man who is making his own decisions about whether to accept facts or embrace conspiracy theories, and who is choosing to surround himself with people who will bring him conspiracy theories.
In short, Trump decides what information to believe from what people, and he consistently goes for the worst information from the worst people, in ways that threaten the entire U.S. political system.