COLUMN: Danforth smears Trump, Schmitt with Biden’s discredited ‘Charlottesville hoax’ retread

Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth has lost his way.

Upset by the withdrawal from the Missouri Senate race of his handpicked spoiler candidate, John Wood, Danforth published an angry op-ed in the St. Louis Dispatch, complete with a large color photo of the Jan. 6 protest. 

The 85-year-old Ralston Purina heir charged “radicals” Eric Schmitt, who is the Republican Senate nominee, and former President Trump with spreading the “big lie” about the 2020 election. Danforth took particular offense at Trump’s assertion that “the election was rigged against him.” 

Let us put aside for a moment the issue of voter fraud and focus on the word “rigged.” The rigging, in fact, began with Joe Biden’s entry into the presidential race on April 25, 2019.

Biden began his campaign announcement with two words: “Charlottesville, Virginia.” He continued, “[Trump] said there were ‘some very fine people on both sides.’ With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.” 

Trump did no such thing. Biden launched his campaign on a smear designed to incite racial division. His people knew they were falsely defaming Trump. They also knew they could get away with it. 

The major media and Big Tech had already chosen sides. They would hold Biden and his family to no known standards. 

For his part, Danforth insisted that the 2020 election was “free and fair.” He also insisted that “Trump called Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville “good people.” 

Danforth did not even get Trump’s quote right. Trump said, “fine people.” Worse, Danforth did not allow himself the wiggle room Biden had. He put words in the president’s mouth.

If Trump had nothing better to do, he would have excellent grounds for a defamation suit.

“The Republican Party I believe in stands for civil rights for all Americans,” wrote Danforth in his op-ed. “The party he took over let him get away with it.”

The party Trump took over “let him get away with it” because he never called the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville “good people.” 

Before smearing Trump and his supporters, it would have profited Danforth to review the actual facts of what has come to be called the “Charlottesville hoax.”

On Tuesday, August 15, 2017, at Trump tower, Trump took questions about the incident from predictably hostile reporters. 

When pressed as to why he didn’t condemn the groups involved more specifically on the day of the event, Trump replied, “When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking.”

Treated by the media more rudely than any president in modern history, Trump did his best to explain himself. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch.” 

Later in the press conference, he added fatefully, “You have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” He explained that many of the people there were protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. 

When the discussion turned to George Washington, Trump made a prescient comment  “He was a major slave owner,” Trump said of Washington. “Now, are we going to take down his statue?”

In fact, Washington’s was one of the hundreds of statues toppled in 2020’s homegrown cultural revolution.

Trump continued in words no honest person could possibly misinterpret.

“And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.” 

The fairness of the election will be debated for the next century, but there is no debate about what Trump said in regard to Charlottesville. The self-righteous Danforth felt no need to get his facts straight before defaming not only Trump, but also the millions who voted for him.

In his effort to paint Trump as a racist unworthy of Lincoln’s GOP, Danforth deceived his audience a second time. Said Danforth, “Trump banned Muslims from entering America.”

Trump’s original executive order banned residents of select countries on the terror watch list. In January 2017, the Pew Research Center estimated that Some 88% of the world’s Muslims were not on that list. 

Danforth is bitter. John Wood, I suspect, had come to see that he was little more than a pawn in Danforth’s campaign to spite Trump. Running as an independent, Wood had no chance of beating Schmitt or of even coming close. 

As to Danforth, the once-respected senator has become a shill for the Democratic Party. For the four years of Trump’s presidency, he watched silently as the media, the intelligence agencies, Big Tech and Democratic leadership worked to “rig” the 2020 election against Trump, the so-called “illegitimate” president who supposedly owed his victory to Putin. 

This smear campaign severely damaged Trump’s re-election bid. If Danforth said a word in Trump’s defense during those years or challenged the process that was, as he might say, “a direct attack on democracy,” I sure couldn’t find it. 

If Danforth said a word about the coordinated suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story three weeks before the election by the media, social media giants, the FBI and the intelligence community, I could find nothing about that, either.

As I explained to Wood in a chance encounter I had with him, he and Danforth were helping to turn America into a banana republic. 

Upon hearing last week that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story on Facebook at the behest of the FBI, I had to wonder whether the turn had already occurred. 

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