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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Cries of conspiracy turn predictable as Trump tries to gaslight Dems

President Donald Trump at the White House on

President Donald Trump at the White House on Saturday. Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

As members of America's larger major party prepared to vote in 14 state primaries this week, President Donald Trump did what everyone has come to expect of him.

"They are staging a coup against Bernie!" he tweeted from the political sidelines on Monday.

But a coup is a sudden, violent and illegal seizure of power from a government. Sen. Bernie Sanders, merely the front-runner in Democratic primaries in big states, cannot of course be deposed in such a manner.

Trump's "they" presumably means the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party.

Certainly a "stop Sanders" movement is in bloom. Trump is feeding the belief that he'd rather run against Sanders than former Vice President Joe Biden, who Trump was apparently so motivated to smear that he managed to get himself impeached.

The president's thinking may indeed be: "I'll easily beat an old socialist!"

Rival Democratic candidates have said the same, but nobody knows yet how strategically sound that thinking may be. As the president often says: We'll see what happens.

In May 2016, before the presidential primaries had ended, Trump talked about debating Sanders, but backed off. He said as much as he wanted to, "I will wait to debate the first-place finisher in the Democratic Party."

Sanders said at the time he hoped Trump would change his mind. Calling the future president a bully, the Vermont senator stated: "Well, Mr. Trump, what are you afraid of?" Sanders' question went unanswered.

Allegations of a coup and other fantasized conspiracies are issued so frequently from the White House that they have all grown reliably predictable.

Donald Trump Jr., who frequently parrots his father, told a TV interviewer of evil Democrats allegedly rooting for coronavirus.

"For them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump's streak of winning is a new level of sickness," Trump Jr. lamented.

The president, in one of his rallies, likened Democrats' criticism of his administration's response to the growing outbreak to their efforts to impeach him. "This is their new hoax," Trump said.

Other deflections continue to spew from the Trump camp.

Biden's potential rise after South Carolina over the weekend had Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) threatening subpoenas for documents about his son Hunter Biden's work for a Ukrainian energy firm.

The recent criminal conviction of Trump's high-strung former campaign adviser Roger Stone, and Stone's 3-year prison sentence, had the president hoisting his conspiracy flags. The forewoman of the jury, he claimed, "is totally tainted," a Stone-style smear.

This is Trump's poison patter. He claimed the GOP primaries in 2016 were rigged against him until he won. He claimed the vote in Pennsylvania was rigged against him until he won that. He claimed voter fraud rigged the popular vote. The news media, he complained, rigged the photos of his inauguration. The "deep state" and the FBI rigged investigations of him and his aides and family.

It is all part of the soundscape now — barely remarkable, rarely credible, usually disproved.

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