Donald Trump

The Anti-Trump Conspiracy Theories

Sure, Trump loves to talk about conspiracies. So do his foes.


A lot of ink has been spilled on Donald Trump's affinity for conspiracy theories. Far less attention has been paid to all the anti-Trump conspiracy stories out there. But they exist too, and some of them have been influential; so I wrote an article about them for The Washington Post. Here's an excerpt:

Flickr / DonkeyHotey

[T]he biggest Trump conspiracy stories are the ones that call the candidate a tentacle of the Kremlin. Half a year ago, this idea was largely limited to the fringes, where it was flogged by folks like Cliff Kincaid, a conservative gadfly who posed such queries as "Is Trump a sleeper agent for Moscow?" The idea started percolating into the mainstream media over the summer. It picked up steam after WikiLeaks' release of the Democratic National Committee's emails, a data dump many blamed on Russian hackers.

Eventually it made its way to the Clinton campaign, which now has a page on its website devoted to the topic, framed in just-asking-questions style: "Why does Trump surround himself with advisers with links to the Kremlin?" "Why do Trump's foreign policy ideas read like a Putin wish list?" "Do Trump's still-secret tax returns show ties to Russian oligarchs?" The whole thing feels like a throwback to the Cold War, though in those days such intimations were usually reserved for candidates on the left. (Not always, though. In 1952, the Democratic pol Averell Harriman called Republican Sen. Robert Taft "the Kremlin's candidate.")

At the core of this idea is a genuine intersection of interests. Trump and Vladimir Putin do have similar views on several issues, and Putin may well be rooting for the Republican. That is not a conspiracy or even in itself a strong argument against Trump—unless you think U.S. foreign policy should be based on doing the opposite of what Putin wants in all circumstances. But it's the starting point. The Putin/Trump theorists jump from there to a plausible-but-unproven possibility (that Russia was behind the exposure of the DNC's emails), and from there to wilder speculations that Trump is a Putinist puppet, based on various "suggestive" "links" between the two.

The piece has more to say about the Putin/Trump allegations, and about some other Trump tales too; it also has some broader thoughts about election conspiracy theories (and bona-fide election conspiracies). You can read the whole thing here. If you want to see what I have to say about Trump's own conspiracy rhetoric, go here. And if you want to buy my book about conspiracy stories (or just poke around in it with Amazon's "look inside" feature), go here.

NEXT: Stop Calling Trump 'Crazy,' Pleads Mental Health Advocate

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  1. Far less attention has been paid to all the anti-Trump conspiracy stories out there.

    Hmm. Is the story that Trump has been working to get Hillary elected all along considered “anti-Trump”?

    1. Well, it’s one of the ones I mentioned…

      1. What’s your gut feeling?

        Narcissism? Naivete? Political incompetence? Outright collusion?

        1. What’s your gut feeling?

          I don’t think Trump is the sort of guy who would voluntarily subject himself to the humiliation of losing a presidential race by a big margin. (Though I suppose that still leaves the possibility, in conspiracy parlance, that he’s a Useful Idiot rather than a Conscious Agent.)

          Narcissism? Naivete? Political incompetence? Outright collusion?

          I vote for narcissism and incompetence. He just doesn’t seem to understand that the tactics that worked for him in the primaries are working against him in the general.

          1. “He just doesn’t seem to understand that the tactics that worked for him in the primaries are working against him in the general.”

            I’m not entirely sure that is true. the polls are all over the place….so much so, that we have no evidence of a significant change pre/post conventions.

            Trump won the primaries with a very small cash spend relative to the others. Hillary has already outspent him by 4-fold on advertising without any appreciable change in the polls. She is sitting on top of at least 3 major scandals, any of which have been largely ignored by the media.
            One good attach ad campaign in October and Hillary is buried under that scandal.

            1. Or one big terror attack.

          2. I think his primary tactics could work just fine in a general.

            Its that he’s lost his stroke. He’s not operating his own system as well as he was. He reminds me of a streaky baseball player in a slump. He could end the season with shit numbers, or he could start banging them out of the park again.

        2. First or the last one.

        3. I’ve always suspected it was leverage. Both Bill and Trump are connected through Epstein, best known for throwing parties involving celebrities and underaged sex slaves.

          Sounds like a good way to get lots of leverage on powerful, nasty people; judging by the slap on the wrist Epstein got, it paid off.

      2. Oops! Sorry, Jesse.

        *** gets lunch ***

    2. Everyone I say this too thinks I’m crazy, but in 2 months when Trump is still doing the exact same thing and Clinton looks like the more rational person, will there ever be any doubt.

    3. If Trump had just been working to get Hillary elected he would have named her as his VP pick and she would have been on both tickets.

      1. Damn it feels good to be omnipotent

  2. Since the “Russian hack” was really a DNC leak (RIP) does that make him a sleeper agent for the DNC?

  3. Gotta be working with Hillary. I just can’t see any other reason for all of the obvious missteps and foot-shooting. This explanation from CNBC seems spot on:

    “Evidence that Trump has no intention of actually running a serious race for president is everywhere and has been for months. Someone whose goal is to actually win does not fight with the family of a fallen U.S. solider for days, or pick endless fights with members of his own party, or ignore terrible economic reports he could use to rip up his opponent, or suggest his opponent be assassinated and then refuse to fix it, or fail to run any serious TV campaign or set up a legitimate ground game in any swing state.”…..44859.html

    He’s already talking about after he loses, “At the end it’s either going to, you know, work or I’m going to have a very, very nice long vacation.”

    Except for all the incensed former supporters trying to exact some Second Amendment Justice, that is.

    1. If they even suspect that he threw this thing to Hillary, there will not be a facility in the world secure enough to protect him.

      Hell, just Ted Nugent alone would probably find a way to get to him.

    2. This is the conspiracy theory I hear the most. He is basically there to deflect negative attention from Hillary. And when does get around to mentioning something that has come out about her, it is already old news and then he says something else that deflects attention away from her. It is either this or he is going all Charlie Sheen and #Winning on his own terms and not listening to anyone else.

      1. Has to be one of those two.

    3. And when Jill Stein has outspent you on ads, you’re not trying.

      1. The most telling aspect for me is that every time something negative comes up about Hillary, Trump steps in to dilute it by refocusing the attention on himself.

        He’s basically been running interference for her since he won the nomination.

        Utterly bizarre.

      2. “And when Jill Stein has outspent you on ads, you’re not trying.”

        Would that mean Johnson isn’t trying as well?

        1. At least Johnson has actually spent $$ on ads. Which means he has spent infinity more ad money then Trump.

        2. Has Johnson given anyone the impression he was trying?

      3. unless he is waiting until closer to the election.

    4. There is no doubt that Trump is working to get the Skag elected…

  4. Question: how does one earn the title of gadfly? Do you have to be a superficially charming drunk with a cravat?

    1. Get a cravat and tell us if it works.

      1. Obviously the cravat isn’t the problem.

    2. No, you just annoy the shit out of people with persistent questions.

      I think Socrates was the original gadfly in that sense.

  5. Wouldn’t surprise me. Putin is the living embodiment of every satirical take of a Latin American strongman – unashamedly corrupt with transparent schemes which fall apart instantly – and trying to influence American politics for the sake of someone who’s the embodiment of corrupt businessman satire would be something he’d be down with.

  6. I bet you Agent Trump was the one who really killed Vince Foster. AND SECRETARY RON BROWN.

  7. Random thought:

    Where have you gone, Lee Atwater
    A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)

    1. What’s that you say Mary Matalin?

      Ruthless Lee has left and gone away (hey, hey, hey)

      1. Isn’t she deaf?

        1. Not sure if serious but, you’re thinking of Marlee Matlin.

        2. No, just blind. She married an elderly unshelled turtle.

          1. From Louisiana, which has some butt-ugly, lisping turtles

  8. Little known fact: All this time, his name was actually Donald Trumpov.

    1. Just like his vodka

  9. To this day, you don’t have to look far on Twitter to see people wondering whether he’s trying to lose.

    Maybe he’s not trying to lose but he’s a trying loser.

    1. Loser Trump can’t close a deal to save his life. Even his own daughter won’t have sex with him. Sad!

  10. Speaking of conspiracies….about that Khan character:…

    I don’t know what’s what but it wasn’t that hard to listen to that guy without a raised Bugs Bunny eyebrow.

    1. Interesting if true.

  11. When it comes to the DNC leaks, more ink has been spilled by the media over Trumps so-far completely unproven connections to Russia than over what’s contained in the leaks themselves. I can only assume this is because most of the media is ‘in the bag’ for Hillary, so to speak, and thus they can’t write objectively about the links. They literally can’t write down anything without it being pro-Hillary and anti-Trump, even when at face value it could only be a negative about Hillary.

    The irony, to me, is that this is the behavior of Russian journalists.

    1. The irony, to me, is that this is the behavior of Russian journalists.

      See Boris Yeltsin’s reelection campaign in 1996.

  12. Pure speculation on my part, but I believe the whole Trump/Putin conspiracy is actually a deflection from the Hildebeast camp. I believe if anyone has ties to Russia, especially financially, it is Hillary. I believe it is in “Clinton Cash” where they detail how, while SOS, Hillary was working on building a “Silicon Valley”-style tech center called Skolkovo, and how Bill and the Clinton Foundation received speaking fees and donations, respectively, from the Russian government. But I also believe, Skolkovo not-withstanding, that Putin disdains Clinton more than he likes Trump. My enemies enemy is my friend and all.

  13. If Trump really is trying to throw the election, he is not really being as effective as possible. I’m sure we could come up with dozens of really awful things he could say if he wants to lose the remainder of his supporters.
    e.g. an aside when his mic is “off: “Listen to those red-necks cheer me. Like I’d let even one of those cretins step inside my home in Palm Beach.”

    1. “That oughta hold the little S.O.B.s”

  14. Why is Daniel Craig carrying Trump? If this were a Friday Funnies there would be enough captions to explain this to me.

  15. Mitt Romney said the word “binders.” Let’s mine four more years of jokes about that.

  16. Looking for a good conspiracy? Do some reason into the names Seth Rich and Shawn Lucas.

    It’s starting to feel like the glorious ’90s all over again, as Hildog’s hitman is pretty busy these days with the dirty work of taking out her enemies.

    1. What about DWS’s predecessor, didn’t he die recently too? I could see someone like that being involved in the leak just to shaft the person that stole his job.


    1. Good points, whoever is currently posting as GILMORE.

        1. When was the Real GILMORE ever a grammar cop? Maybe nicole is running GILMORE now.

    2. Wait, is this the real GILMORE, or did somebody swoop in on the orphaned handle after he became Dennis.

      1. That’s the question.

        1. I mean, it certainly sounds like GILMORE, but then how hard is that, really?

        2. The real question is: how did he get four links into a post? In the past it always stopped me at two.

          1. They loosened that recently, but the 1500 character limit is still in effect.

            1. All hail the “Day of the Commenters”

              May you tags blink incessantly.

  18. Kremlin would never tell – either openly or through RT – what it wants you to do because you’d do the exact opposite.

    RT paid somewhat disproportionate attention to Sanders, but perhaps just for the joy of trolling.

    I reckon Putin must be fucking scared of Trump, and that he’d be scared of any other non-interventionist, too. The day U.S. stops poking Russia and stirring shit in Ukraine and elsewhere, Putin regime will start disintegrating because of lack of an external enemy. Neocons and Putin need each other, or else they become irrelevant.

    1. Oh, come on. There’s always militant Islam. Russia doesn’t need us as an enemy.

      1. They’re working on that but Islam is not yet a credible threat for most Russians.

        1. How quickly they forget, then.


          And I’ve never thought of Russians as having short memories.

          1. Also: the Bosnian War.

          2. Russian propaganda mostly refrains from even mentioning Islam in the context of Chechen mess. In a way, they’re right.

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