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    Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. (File)

    Journalist: Washington Overtaken by ‘Competing Conspiracy Theories’

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    The internet is abuzz after the New York Times reported on Thursday that US President Donald Trump was planning to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian actors.

    Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear spoke to Joe Lauria, a veteran journalist who has worked for major newspapers in four countries, perhaps most notably as the Wall Street Journal's correspondent to the United Nations. Becker started the interview by asking Lauria if he believed the leak that Trump had tried to fire Mueller was legitimate.

    ​"I wouldn't be surprised," Lauria said at the interview's onset. "There's been so much leaking going on since the inauguration a year ago, one more leak coming from someone supposedly loyal to Trump would not be surprising. That he wanted to fire Mueller would not be surprising, either. But he was apparently talked out of it, which was the wisest decision, if in fact he wanted to do that. So the story might be just a big storm in a teapot."

    It might have been easier to talk Trump out of his impulse to fire Mueller given the mess his firing of FBI Director James Comey in May created — including the appointment of Mueller to investigate him.

    "Well, what is Donald Trump's background in politics before being elected to the highest office in the land?" Lauria asked. "Zero. He was completely naive, and he misread the situation totally. He didn't help himself by going on TV and telling Lester Holt that he fired Comey over that 'Russia thing,' which could mean any number of things. It could just mean he wanted to relieve the pressure on him that was being put on over Russia and that Comey was the head of the spear, or it meant that he was obstructing justice — which, of course, is what Democrats say what they want Mueller to prove."

    "I think what we're seeing right now, Brian, is two competing conspiracy theories. On the one hand, Russiagate. Clearly there's been no real evidence, nothing has stuck: the Don Jr. meeting, Flynn, the DNC hack, Papadopoulos, none of that has nailed Russia for hacking the emails, or for blackmailing Trump or in any way helping to win him the election. It could still come out, but it's been a year and a half — we haven't seen anything yet."

    "The other theory is that there's been a coup d'etat against Trump. It started during the campaign, when he won the nomination and it accelerated after he won the election. There's not a lot of evidence for that, but I think it's more plausible than Russiagate. It looked like a coup from the start with these leaks that were coming up frequently, and now the evidence that is going forward are these text messages [between two FBI agents about Trump] which were deleted. We now know the inspector general of the Justice Department has recovered the texts, which was not a difficult thing to do apparently," said Lauria.

    "As an independent observer of this, I'm sitting back and enjoying watching both sides trying to destroy each other with these two competing conspiracy theories. Whether it was Russia who stole the election, or whether this was a coup led by not just the FBI, we should look at John Brennan who headed the Obama CIA or James Clapper, the head of [Director of National Intelligence] DNI if there was indeed this coup from a deep state. [The theory was] ridiculed today by CNN. They called it a conspiracy theory, but [referred to] Russiagate as an actual fact. They don't even say it's alleged."

    "I don't know if we're ever going to find out about what Brennan's role and Clapper's role may have been in organizing what could have been this coup. But I like to see both the parties at each other's throats. I think both of them let the American public down for years now, neither one of the representing interests of the majority of American people. As it's all devolved into a partisan screaming match right now, any serious independent or true investigation to either of these are going to be dismissed by either side. Facts don't seem to matter and they may never matter, and that's very disturbing."

    "I think that we've reached this point, but if there's a destruction or weakening of both parties, it could be an opening for a new kind of politics in the US," Lauria said, although he didn't elaborate on what such politics would be.

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    Tags:
    Conspiracy Theory, deep state, Russia gate, White House, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), James Comey, Joe Lauria, Donald Trump, Robert Mueller
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