Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent turned campaign surrogate for Donald Trump, earned the scorn of CNN’s Don Lemon yesterday for his lame effort to spin the reality show star’s statement that “Second Amendment people” could intervene if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and dares to fulfill her constitutional obligation to appoint justices to the US Supreme Court.
Bongino said that he was “trying not to break down in laughter” because he doesn’t agree Trump’s words were an incitement to violence. When Lemon noted that Trump should speak more clearly if he doesn’t want to be misinterpreted, Bongino shot back: “You didn’t come into this with a clear and open mind.”
Watch the testy exchange:
— Pin Head (@PiercedSkull) August 10, 2016
LEMON: What you’re saying right now makes no sense! I’m sitting at home, I’m watching Donald Trump. I have two ears and I have two eyes and I can see the reactions… We’re not stupid!… You should be ashamed of yourself!
BONGINO: I’m ashamed that you’re talking to me as if I’m a child!
After Lemon denounced him as a liar, Bongino made a fallacious appeal to authority and added a flourish of fake bravado. “You don’t know crap about this, Don! You’re a TV guy! I was a Secret Service Agent! Now cut off my mic! Do what you wanna do!”
Contrary to Bongino’s expectations, Lemon did not cut his microphone, and instead continued to press the case for an objective reading of Trump’s words.
Secret Service officials later confirmed they had spoken to Trump about his episode of verbal diarrhea.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) August 10, 2016
In the day since Trump made his unconsidered remark, his surrogates have tried to spin it as a case of poor communication skills or a joke gone wrong. Neither explanation seems convincing to anyone who isn’t an anthusiastic Trump supporter, and even many of them are forced to admit that Trump went too far.
In fact, some Trump fans who were actually present for his remarks can be seen reacting to them in wonder.
— Pin Head (@PiercedSkull) August 9, 2016
For anyone paying attention to his career arc, Bongino’s turn as Trump apologist is not surprising.
When he left a twelve-year stint in the Secret Service to write a ‘tell all’ book in 2011, fellow agents disputed his dubious claims to have been in the room during high-level discussions about Obamacare and other issues.
Bongino nevertheless became a right wing media darling, appearing regularly as a guest with Sean Hannity and Mark Levin to pontificate about the conspiracy theories which animate modern conservative politics.
In 2013, Bongino convened Groundswell, a lobbying effort that brought fringe activists, Breitbart News ‘journalists,’ and professional cranks together with Ginny Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, under the auspices of right wing gadfly organization Judicial Watch.
Groundswell succeeded in persuading House Republicans to ‘investigate’ contrived scandals, including the so-called IRS ‘targeting’ affair and the Benghazi Special Committee. They were also responsible for the talking points distributed to GOP lawmakers in preparation for the unveiling of pro-life crusader David Daleiden’s ‘baby parts for cash’ hoax.
A Maryland resident, Bongino has tried to win elected office twice, losing against Democratic incumbents Sen. Ben Cardin in 2012 and Rep. John Delaney in 2014. There was speculation last year that he might move to Florida in order to campaign for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat.
Bongino is now a podcaster and contributing editor at the website Conservative Review.
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