But there was also lightness. Bowers at one point described his repeated response to calls from Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis for him to block the election results: Show me proof that the election was tainted by fraud. Their response was to promise that the proof would come…and then no proof came.
“At some point,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-California) asked, “did one of them make a comment that he didn’t have evidence but he had a lot of theories?”
“It was Mr. Giuliani!” Bowers responded, with a disbelief that has survived more than a year of consideration.
“And what exactly did he say and how did it happen?” Schiff continued.
“As I recall: He said, we have a lot of theories, we just don’t have the evidence,” Bowers replied. “And I don’t know if it was a gaffe or maybe he didn’t think about what he said. But myself and other members of my group, the three members of my group and my lawyer both remembered that precisely and afterwards we kind of laughed about it.
With reason. It’s ridiculous to ask people to act on a premise without giving them evidence – but even more ridiculous to just act on the premise yourself without caring about the preaching in the first place.
But that – lots of theories, no proof – was and is at the heart of Trump’s policy approach.
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Remember his first remarks as a candidate, seven years ago this month. Trump stepped off the Trump Tower escalator and then offered heated right-wing comments about the danger of criminal immigrants. It was quickly debunked, but it didn’t matter. He had a theory; he had no proof. But the theory was so appealing to his base of supporters that he was rewarded for saying it. He was hailed as the only honest man in the race because he would present indefensible theories as facts.
Again and again, the same pattern happened. Trump was full of theories about how the world worked and what leftist and previous presidents had done wrong, many of those theories completely disconnected from reality. As president, he also had many theories about his own successes that floated just as freely. The Washington Post has compiled a large index full of examples. After all, what is “I have a theory, I have no evidence” if not a more legal way of stating “I say what I mean and that’s it”?
However, Giuliani should have known better than to try to pressure people outside Trump’s bubble on that standard. Not just because he was dealing with true professionals who one might assume had a more loyal adherence to duty and honesty, but because he had recent experience of how this theory-based approach could get Trump in trouble.
In early 2020, Donald Trump was impeached by the House for trying to force Ukraine to help him in his re-election campaign. Giuliani was at the heart of this effort – and again operating within a policy of amplifying theories before there was a shred of evidence to back them up.
He called an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 in an early effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe Biden.
“All we need from the president is to say, I’m going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s going to investigate and dig up the evidence that currently exists and is there any other evidence on the involvement of the 2016 election,” Giuliani said, “and then the Biden stuff has got to be exhausted.” The theory was there; now is the time to find evidence.
To his credit, it was an occasion on which Giuliani was at least apparently interested in finding evidence – or, at least, saw the point in appearing to be looking for it. At other times, Giuliani has simply advanced other theories about Biden and Ukraine without bothering to consider the lack of evidence behind them.
This approach continued until the elections. In late November 2020, Giuliani took part in an infamous press conference where he and Trump attorney Sidney Powell described a truly bizarre theory of alleged fraud, including claims that electronic voting machines had been manipulated. He and Powell were sued by the maker of these devices for defamation.
“It’s not my job, in a rapidly moving case, to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that was given to me,” Giuliani said during a deposition in defense of the claims made during the trial. this media event. “Otherwise, you will never write a story. You will never come to a conclusion.
Start with the conclusion – the theory, if you will – and then maybe you care about the evidence.
Good enough for his boss. Trump and his supporters have been operating on a specific theory since Nov. 3, 2020 — that the election was somehow stolen for Joe Biden — and haven’t let the complete lack of evidence for that theory deter them. That’s the beauty of focusing on theory rather than evidence. It allows you to backfill any foundation you want, add and remove pieces depending on the moment. Even when there is no evidence, it doesn’t matter; you can simply insist, as Trump has often done, that the proof is imminent.
Lots of theories, no proof. There are few better encapsulations of Trump’s approach to politics.
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