WASHINGTON — Enemies from within have launched a “deep-state” smear campaign, news organizations are acting with ulterior motives, and the worst attacks are yet to come.
Pushing back against the biggest threat so far to Donald Trump’s young presidency, his most fervent supporters are building alternative narratives to run alongside the “establishment” media account — from relatively benign diversions to more bizarre conspiracies.
“They’re going to say that Donald Trump has Alzheimer’s,” said the president’s friend and longtime associate Roger Stone, who made an online video laying out how the president’s own cabinet could trigger a never-used provision of the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to stage a coup on the grounds that Mr. Trump is mentally unsound. “This is the game plan. Watch carefully,” Mr. Stone swore.
As Americans process a dizzying week of damning revelations about the president — his firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey; his disclosure of highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians; and his plea to Mr. Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation of his fired national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn — Mr. Trump has found shelter on the right, where the collective judgment of the conservative media and the Republican Party so far seems to be to dismiss the allegations as “fake news,” shift the blame and change the subject.
With varying degrees of credibility and credulity, conservatives have fed stories that Mr. Trump is the victim of sabotage by an adversarial intelligence community full of Trojan horse holdovers from the Obama administration.
“There is someone burrowed into the intelligence community who wants to hurt Trump,” the conservative author and radio host Laura Ingraham warned.
They have accused the media of abetting felons inside the government who are leaking damaging information about Mr. Trump and jeopardizing national security, perhaps with revenge in mind. After all, reported Matt Drudge, President Trump had once called out The Washington Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos, for potential antitrust violations.
They also pointed to a familiar and irritating theme from the presidential campaign: The same people who told them they were throwing away their vote on Mr. Trump, a man who was supposed to be too reckless and buffoonish to ever get elected, are now gloating that they were right all along.
Trump supporters “see the news media and the establishment as one of those airlines dragging them down the aisle, bloodying them,” said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist, who said that Mr. Trump’s foes often fail to understand how their criticism can backfire. “And when they assault him, it validates the idea that he’s the only thing there to protect us from them.”