Steve Schmidt: Trump's 'Spygate' Conspiracy "Most Intense Disinformation Campaign This Country Has Ever Seen"

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Republican commentator and strategist Steve Schmidt, chief campaign manager for John McCain in 2008, said Thursday the way President Trump is spinning a "nefarious conspiracy" of the intel community spying on his presidential campaign is the "hallmark of autocratic leadership." Schmidt said that "this is not normal in a democratic republic" and warned the U.S. is heading toward a "very different type of country."

"What's increasingly clear, whether the target is James Comey, whether it's Director Mueller, the special counsel, the reality is that this president will burn everything to the ground to protect himself, to protect himself from this investigation moving closer to the Oval Office," he said.

"We're moving... closer and closer to the crisis, to the critical hour and the rule of law in this country must be defended," Schmidt declared. "There is a potential, absent any defense of it by leaders in this country, that we'll be living in a very different type of country."





"For 240 plus years, the rule of law has held in the United States of America. And the spinning of these conspiracy theories, the constancy of the attacks, the victimization that Trump puts upon himself, always blaming someone, this nefarious conspiracy, this is the hallmark of autocratic leadership back to the beginning of time. This is not normal in a democratic republic like the United States. And it should be opposed," he said.

Schmidt said there is a second scandal, and that is the complicity of the Republican party in Congress. Congressional Republicans not standing up to Trump "is what propaganda looks like," Schmidt said.

The MSNBC commentator also said America is seeing an "unprecedented" "attack from within" from Trump on vital institutions like a person's body would be attacked by a "flesh-eating bacteria."

"There is a second scandal, and that is the complicity of the majority party, the Republican party, in the Congress," Schmidt said. "The fact is that there is not one of them, not one who will stand up and say that we are a country of laws, that no person is above the law, that these institutions are vital and necessary and objective truth matters. This is propaganda. This is what propaganda looks like. It's what it smells like. We have never seen anything like it. What we're seeing is an attack from within on vital institutions like a person's body would be attacked by a flesh-eating bacteria. And it is unprecedented in America."

Schmidt's full comments on Thursday's broadcast of MSNBC's Deadline: White House:

STEVE SCHMIDT: This president is besieged by investigations and all around this president from Scott Pruitt, the cabinet secretaries that have already resigned, received fantastic levels of corruption, type of corruption we haven't seen in this country going back a hundred years. And what's increasingly clear, whether the target is James Comey, whether it's Director Mueller, the special counsel, the reality is that this president will burn everything to the ground to protect himself, to protect himself from this investigation moving closer to the Oval Office.

Everything he's doing is a strategy of incitement. He's trying to harden and incite his base through the most deliberate, the most intense misinformation campaign this country has ever seen. This president is a serial liar. He is lying to the American people every day. He is making up things out of whole cloth. He is serially attacking vital institutions that are necessary to the security of the country. He will apparently stop at nothing.

There is a second scandal, and that is the complicity of the majority party, the Republican party, in the Congress. The fact is that there is not one of them, not one who will stand up and say that we are a country of laws, that no person is above the law, that these institutions are vital and necessary and objective truth matters. This is propaganda. This is what propaganda looks like. It's what it smells like. We have never seen anything like it. What we're seeing is an attack from within on vital institutions like a person's body would be attacked by a flesh-eating bacteria. And it is unprecedented in America.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Steve Schmidt, let me ask you, there is news -- we started the hour with news of Emmet Flood -- sorry, someone has a frog it their throat at the table. One of the president's new lawyers representing him in the Russia probe attended this meeting on Capitol Hill with the Gang of Eight where they reviewed the most classified information about a human informant. Can you imagine any scenario where [Former Attorney General under President George W. Bush] Alberto Gonzalez or Harriet Miers would have checked in with Pat Fitzgerald who was then investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame?

SCHMIDT: It should never have happened. On the 1 to 10 scale of inappropriateness, it comes in at about 157. And the real issue now is what's the next transgression? Where is the next time that the Department of Justice backs up because of the whims, because of the demands of the president?

We're moving, as John Heilemann said, closer and closer to the crisis, to the critical hour and the rule of law in this country must be defended. There is a potential, absent any defense of it by leaders in this country, that we'll be living in a very different type of country. For 240 plus years, the rule of law has held in the United States of America. And the spinning of these conspiracy theories, the constancy of the attacks, the victimization that Trump puts upon himself, always blaming someone, this nefarious conspiracy, this is the hallmark of autocratic leadership back to the beginning of time. This is not normal in a democratic republic like the United States. And it should be opposed.

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