WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has enlisted parts of the U.S. government and key allies in the pursuit of unproven or disproven conspiracy theories, some incubated in the dark and anonymous corners of the internet.
Text messages between U.S. diplomats, a whistleblower complaint and a series of public statements by Trump and other officials in recent days offer the clearest view yet of the extent to which the president has used the government to chase accusations that secret forces have been plotting against him.
Much of that evidence has surfaced because of an impeachment inquiry led by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Some of the evidence that has emerged shows that:
– State Department envoys in Europe offered Ukraine’s president a White House visit if he promised to investigate a discredited theory suggesting Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election that put Trump in office. A whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer suggested Trump also held back nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine as additional leverage, which Trump has denied doing.
– The Justice Department is now investigating its own probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow. Attorney General William Barr and another senior department official traveled to Europe in recent months to investigate the theory that the FBI investigation, first launched during the presidential campaign in 2016, was actually a plot to stop Trump from becoming president.