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The anti-Trump movement’s secret Zoom calls give their target ammo

At first glance, it might seem like inside baseball.

A bunch of former prosecutors and cable pundits talking to each other about how much they don’t like Donald Trump and how he’s in deep legal trouble? Doesn’t that happen every day in green rooms and the corner bar?

But this, as disclosed by Politico, is different. These are some of the most prominent commentators in the media universe, and they appear to be consulting/coordinating/conspiring about their main target.

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Even if that’s not the case, it looks awful.

It plays into the hands of conservatives who back Trump that the media are part of the resistance, determined to bring him down at all costs.

They can now say that it is a cabal, confirming all their darkest suspicions about the press determined to bring him down.

Every Friday, these media hotshots join in a secret, off-the-record Zoom call.

In a high-road description, the piece says the goal is to “intellectually stress-test the arguments facing Trump on his journey through the American legal system.” But a beat later it says, “most are united by their dislike of Trump.”

The origins of the group are telling, beginning during the Jan. 6 hearings, when committee staffers began briefing legal commentators on their work. I can think of classified military matters that haven’t remained secret as long.

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Who’s doing the zooming? Norman Eisen, an Obama administration official who worked with House Democrats on Trump’s first impeachment and is a CNN legal analyst, is the founder. 

Norm Eisen, George Conway, Jeffrey Toobin and Donald Trump

He’s joined by Bill Kristol, a leader of the anti-Trump conservatives; longtime Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe; Watergate figure John Dean; and George Conway, ex-husband of Kellyanne, co-founder of the Lincoln Project and a fixture on MSNBC. 

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That’s just the beginning. There is MSNBC analyst Andrew Weissman, who investigated the fruitless Russian collusion accusations against Trump as a prosecutor for Bob Mueller; why would anyone doubt his objectivity?

There are CNN legal analysts Jeffrey Toobin, Elliott Williams and Karen Agnifilo, along with L.A. Times columnist Harry Litman. And there’s Mary McCord, a former DOJ official who co-hosts an MSNBC podcast. 

Former President Donald Trump attends the first day of his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York

Sometimes there are guests, which is also revealing. After Trump was held liable in E. Jean Carroll’s first defamation and sexual assault suit, her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, addressed the group. And, says Politico, former conservative judge J. Michael Luttig, who spearheaded a campaign to kick Trump off state ballots under the 14th Amendment, was another guest. The Supreme Court rejected the anti-democratic move.

Despite efforts to rationalize this as a meeting-of-great-minds exercise, I’m not buying it. Even Politico concedes the calls could “breed groupthink” – what a shocking thought.

And cable news drives plenty of other coverage, particularly when certain themes are constantly pounded.

All these folks are smart enough to think for themselves. Which makes it surprising that they lack the common sense to see how troubling the Zooming looks.

Read the full article here

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