technology

The Trump dossier doesn’t faze his voters: ‘I haven’t been following that’

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Supporters of the president-elect direct a similar ire toward media despite a week of sensational allegations and the reveleation of potential ties to Russia

After a week of scurrilous and sensational claims, the life-size cardboard cutouts of Donald Trump were, like the man himself, still standing tall.

The president-elects name and image are everywhere at the Trump Cafe, a small-town Texas restaurant that, with an instinct for self-promotion worthy of the Donald himself, renamed itself in his honor during the campaign. Of course, it also adopted an All-American menu.

Naming a restaurant after Trump would be a divisive act in much of the country, but not in Bellville. The town, with a population of about 4,000, is the seat of Austin County, which Trump carried with 79% of the vote.

Just 10 days before the inauguration, Washington has been rocked by the publication of an unverified intelligence dossier, containing incendiary allegations that Russia had aggressively sought to sway the election in Trumps favor. The dossier also alleged lurid sexual conduct by the president-elect.

But Trump supporters in Texas and across the country are unfazed. Many expressed a view of the dossier common during the many scandals of the election campaign: that they had only vaguely heard about it and did not care much. It did not shift their fundamental view of the president-elect, nor did it shake their faith in him.

So far, so good, said Judy, a 74-year-old diner at the Trump cafe (who declined to give her last name). She rejected the notion that Trump may be a Russian puppet. Hes his own man, she said. The mud in the media, she thinks, is just thrown out there by anti-Trumpsters.

The
The Trump Cafe in Bellville, Texas. Photograph: Tom Dart for the Guardian

Lulu and Thomas Rocha had just finished eating at a Mexican restaurant in nearby Brenham, a charming town known for being the headquarters of Blue Bell Creameries, an ice-cream maker that remains deeply beloved by Texans despite a recent listeria outbreak in 2016.

Brenham, like most places in the state outside the major cities, voted for Trump. The only Hillary sign that we saw was put her in jail, said Thomas, a 79-year-old retired firefighter and US navy veteran.

If you stop and think about it, all of these other politicians, theyve all got bad stuff behind them too, you know? So hey, lets give this a chance and see, his wife, 71, said. I think hell be great. She doubted that hacking decided the election and felt the medias focus was misplaced, she said.

Everybody spies on everybody, and all that, and now with all this technology theres hacking done all over the place. But what gets me is that, I mean, [the press] are just bulldogs on something like that, but they can ignore everything that Hillary has done, she said.

Thomas Rocha is looking forward to inauguration day. Ive got it on my calendar, you know? God bless America again, on the 20th. Thats how I feel about it.

Similar views were expressed elsewhere. Asked about the claims that Russia collected compromising information about Trump, Richard Kienzle, 62, a retired doctor from Atlanta, Georgia, said: I havent been following that. Im sure theres going to be an attempt to vilify Trump by the Democrats. Im sure the report about Russia hacking the election is false to make his election look false. We need a purge of leftwing Democrats and the loony left.

A new Pew Research Center survey found that most Americans believe Russia was behind the hacks of the Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. But Democrats are now much more likely than Republicans to think of Russia as an adversary, with Republicans increasingly warming to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

But Kienzle remains loyal to the celebrity billionaire despite having reservations, he added. Im still a supporter. Hes bringing in a lot of business people, a lot from Goldman Sachs; I dont necessarily agree with that. I dont know if he will be able to reverse trade agreements without starting a trade war.

Thom Majka, a business development director, said the media had not gotten its facts straight. I look at it as a lack of credibility. The US mainstream media has no love lost for Trump and theyll do whatever they can to challenge him. If anything, it makes me support even more what hes trying to accomplish.

Benjamin Marchi, a healthcare business owner who was at Trumps election victory party in New York, on 8 November, also rejected the dossier as nonsense.

Its pretty clear. The fact that director of national intelligence Clapper has stated the intelligence community doesnt believe its reliable should be a pretty clear message to observers that the media jumped the gun on this, Marchi, a 38-year-old from Easton, Maryland, said. With trust in the media at an all-time low, Im not sure this is going to improve it.

Overall, Marchi said he was pleased with Trumps actions as president-elect and more enthusiastic than ever. Today I could not be more pleased with his picks for various positions for the cabinet His reliance on true professionals who know how to get the job done, rather than rewarding political allies, has really impressed me.

Lei Ann Gleaves, 49, a stay-at-home mother from Franklin, Tennessee, said: Since Ive been all about supporting Trump from the beginning, when he said its not true, I believed him. My husband and I were actually laughing about it.

But I think the whole thing is very concerning: the intelligence should not be leaking; our intelligence people were wrong and they should not be wrong; and why are you leaking bad information about the person whos about to be your boss? If I thought my boss was doing something unethical, I would just quit.

Michael Barnett, 39, a lawyer in Palm Beach, Florida, was similarly inclined to give Trump, in his words, the benefit of the doubt.

I couldnt form an intelligent opinion until I read more about it. I know it sounds strange but I havent been paying attention, Barnett said.

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