(CNN)Of all the wild things President Donald Trump said earlier this week in his interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, there’s no question what the wildest one was. It was this:
“We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. They’re on a plane.”To be clear on what Trump is alleging here: There was a plane packed to the gills with professional protesters “wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that.”He later added in the Ingraham interview that the plane was headed to Washington to disrupt the Republican National Convention, but has since provided conflicting information about where the plane was going.
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He offered no evidence to back up this shocking claim other than the alleged eyewitness account of “somebody” who got on a plane “from a certain city this weekend” and saw the dark-uniformed “thugs.”Read MoreAccording to reporting by CNN’s Evan Perez Thursday, while federal authorities have often received raw intelligence raising concerns of rioters traveling to carry out violence, the vast majority of arrests are of local residents in cities where disturbances have occurred. Many of the raw intelligence reports don’t pan out, law enforcement officials say.NBC’s Ben Collins noted that Trump’s story has eerie echoes to a viral Facebook conspiracy theory post from June 1, in which a user claimed that “at least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black” and warned residents to “be ready for attacks downtown and residential areas.”Then came Wolf Blitzer’s interview with Attorney General Bill Barr on Wednesday, in which the CNN anchor asked about Trump’s theory. Here’s the exchange:Blitzer: “Have you asked the FBI to investigate this?”Barr: “I don’t have to ask the FBI because we received numerous reports of individuals coming from Portland, Washington, Seattle and several other cities to come into Washington for the specific purpose of causing a riot.”Blitzer: “Were they wearing black uniforms and were they loaded, if you will?”Barr: “I think there were many on planes. We’ve received multiple reports on this topic.”Blitzer: “And so what the President was talking about was information that you provided the President …”Barr: “I don’t know what the President was specifically referring to.”So, well, yeah. Barr tried his best to find a way to provide some sort of actual facts to Trump’s conspiracy theory but Blitzer, after a bit of back-and-forth, got the attorney general to admit that he had no idea what Trump was talking about in regard to a plane full of “thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that.”The Point: That Barr was so resistant to admitting he had no idea what the President was talking about is scary. That the lack of actual facts won’t stop Trump from continuing to spread this falsehood is even worse.