Here’s a pretty high-quality “Gish gallop” from Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, running over MSNBC’s Brian Williams with a torrent of arguments Thursday night:
WILLIAMS: Your candidate today on the stump. A quote from Donald Trump ― “It was reported that an avalanche of information is coming in. The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment.”
This has been walked back, the indictment portion, by Fox News, who originally reported it, and by NBC News, which has done subsequent reporting on this. Will Donald Trump amend his stump speech to walk back the same thing?
CONWAY: Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton, no matter how it’s being termed. The voters are hearing it for what it is, a culture of corruption. We see reports tonight ― confirmed by a different network, Brian ― that there are new emails that have to do with Hillary Clinton in this Anthony Weiner laptop situation, I suppose, and I mean everybody I think suspected that out of 650,000, there might be something new there and now we are getting confirmation.
We hear from Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the appropriate committee, saying that he just fears that we would have a President Hillary Clinton who would face all types of investigations. You have Chairman McCaul saying that she could easily be impeached or indicted. In other words, you have responsible members of Congress coming forward and saying, based on what they know and what they see and what their experience is, that we could just be living this nightmare from basically the moment she was elected or took office.
And I just, I’m wondering why more Democrats aren’t asking Hillary Clinton to step aside, get off the ticket for the good of the party, for the good of the election, for the good of the country. And why not a single Democrat as far as I can tell has unendorsed her or has said, “I really don’t want to run on the ticket with someone who is not under one but two FBI investigations.”
That’s good stuff. Conway swiftly moves off the inconvenient fact that an earlier story of the day ― Fox News’ report that the FBI was about to hand down indictments in a Clinton Foundation investigation ― was false.
She then represents last week’s story about scandal magnet Anthony Weiner’s emails figuring in a renewed FBI inquest as if it were an even more recent story, while oddly raising the spectacle that there are 650,000 new emails in the case. (There are 650,000 emails in total on Weiner’s laptop; it’s unknown how many involve Clinton.)
Then she presents statements from Reps. Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) about investigating and impeaching Clinton as if those two gentlemen were victims of cruel circumstance, passively being dragged to that point, when in reality they are champing at the bit to get that party started.
It all ends with Conway asking Democrats to urge Clinton to quit the race and wondering why none have unendorsed her ― which maybe points to Conway’s own insecurities about her own candidate, from whom she’s taken some half-steps to distance herself.
It would probably really help Conway out if Clinton were to quit the race, because the absence of a Clinton campaign and its ground game would finally bring the Trump campaign on level terms in that regard. But to answer her question: The reason that Democrats aren’t calling on Clinton to quit the race less than a week before Election Day is because Democrats want to win the election. (Had we had this conversation back in May of 2015, Kellyanne, you might have had a more salient point.)
Of course, what I’d really like to point out here is how Conway answers Williams’ first question about whether the Trump campaign will correct or amend the false contention they’d made throughout the day. “Well, the damage is done,” she says, adding, “The voters are hearing it.” In other words, “We sowed false perceptions. Mission accomplished.”
The Trump campaign is a very Beltway-ish, politics-as-usual affair. That’s an underappreciated fact.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.