White House

Trump suggests ‘this crew’ of 2020 Dems poised to use dirty tricks against him

President revives three-year-old conspiracy theory about 2016 debate mic problem

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens during a town hall debate in October 2016 in St Louis. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

With a single tweet Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump again harked back to his 2016 election victory and suggested Democrats are poised to use dirty tricks to prevent him from winning again.

The president also used his preferred social media platform to pit Texas against New York over the National Rifle Association — popular among his conservative base — as he and his campaign team try to keep the Lone Star State in his column.

The pair of morning tweets showed a president very much in reelection mode serving up red meat for his political base on Twitter. To that end, the Trump team on Monday again showed its focus on the 2020 race when the White House announced Strategic Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp, who has been in the West Wing since Trump was sworn in in 2017, will soon take a role with the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign organization.

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With most prominent polls showing Trump trailing the handful of leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in most of the key Electoral College battleground states, the president took to Twitter to suggest Democrats — before they even pick a nominee — already are preparing to try to derail his debate performances against his general election foe.

“As most people are aware, according to the Polls, I won EVERY debate, including the three with Crooked Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that in the first debate, they modulated the sound on me, and got caught,” Trump wrote.

Trump was referring to a problem with his microphone during a September 2016 debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Afterward, in the “spin room,” he complained to reporters about having a “defective mic,” wondering aloud, according to multiple reports, “Was that on purpose?”

The Commission on Presidential Debates issued this statement after that debate: “Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump’s audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall.”

Three years later, the president who rarely shies away from pushing conspiracy theories popular with his base is making clear he still does not buy the commission’s story. He saw a Democratic conspiracy then — and another brewing.

“This crew looks somewhat easier than Crooked,” he tweeted, “but you never know?”

Meanwhile, Texas appears to be on Trump’s mind. A Quinnipiac University poll released last year shows why. That survey showed Trump losing a hypothetical one-on-one general election there to former Vice President Joe Biden, 48 percent to 44 percent. And while Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California — as well as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and former Labor Secretary Julian Castro — trailed him, all were within the poll’s 3.4 percent margin of error.

Trump has used a number of recent morning tweets to tee off on New York’s Democratic-run state government. He is a native New Yorker, growing up in the Queens borough of New York City before setting up shop in a penthouse in his Manhattan Trump Tower.

On Tuesday, he zeroed in on the Empire State’s investigation of the NRA’s finances and suggested the pro-gun organization, which has become increasingly vocal in supporting all sorts of conservative policy positions, move to Texas.

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He claimed that people are “fleeing” New York “like never before,” criticizing the state’s tax rates on businesses. “And if they are a victim of harassment by the A.G. of the state, like what they are doing to our great NRA, which I think will move quickly to Texas, where they are loved.....” he wrote.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the NRA’s tax-exempt status, with the New York Times reporting in May that she has instructed the organization to preserve financial records and documents.

The president sent a message to the NRA’s leadership, saying it should move its headquarters to Texas, claiming the Lone Star State would “defend them & indemnify them against political harassment by New York State and [Democratic] Governor [Andrew] Cuomo.”

Only the NRA’s headquarters is not in New York — the organization is based in Fairfax, Virginia, its large glass building towering over a section of Interstate 66 about 20 miles outside Washington, D.C.

It was not immediately clear the president is aware of that.

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