Debunking Trump’s Ricin

There are three broad categories of debunking pieces.

The first, easiest, are the ones where there is an array of hard evidence showing that the conspiracy theory is wrong on key data or where the people who constructed the theory have admitted to making things up. The “Paul is dead” theory falls into that category.

The second, less certain, are the ones where investigation has demonstrated some serious leaps of faith in order to tie tenuous claims together. NESARA is an example of this, where one has to believe in a global network of people under direction of UFOs, a coordination between all mid-to-high level people in government, and threats of immediate death for anyone who leaks being in place while nothing untoward happens to the people who’ve been sending out flyers and posting Youtube videos for decades. Sure, there’s still a slim possibility, but it’s so slim as to approach zero.

The third, most tenuous are the ones where Occam’s Razor, known evidence and life experience are applied and the real odds of something happening are approximated, leaving the reader to determine if there is a possibility. This is the type of situation where we find the Tom Hanks is a pedophile theory… where the only accuser is a pizzagate (type two conspiracy) believer, there is no evidence to support her claims and there is no history of Hanks engaging in such behavior at any other time in his life. Those are pretty much written off as well, although the analysis is open to be revised if some serious (and seriously unexpected) evidence comes to the forefront (such as a string of more credible accusers, as happened with Bill Cosby.)

In recent months, conspiracy theory and reality have mixed to create a sense of urgency and fear. Actions at the post office have fostered irrational fears – amplified by politicians and news agencies – about an attempt to steal the election via dismantling of thin-envelope mail sorters. Meanwhile, Trump himself has repeatedly urged his supporters to vote twice and has pressed governors to reduce availability of mail-in voting despite a raging pandemic. Trump has made no secret of his openness to challenging the election via lawsuit when he loses. We are in uncharted territory and Trump has been acting every more dictatorial, with many Republicans (and Russian trolls) vocally supporting him on it.

It is in this climate that President Trump recently received ricin in the mail. Some have posited that he may have sent it to himself. That falls firmly within the realm of the third group of conspiracy theory: very highly implausible, but possible.

Lest anyone cling to the “possible”, let’s look at why it’s implausible.

First, Presidents receiving threatening packages is nothing new. It has happened with many prior Presidents, including all recent Presidents. Obama received ricin in the mail on multiple occasions, and the Secret Service released data showing that he did not receive an inordinate amount of death threats, but that they were on a par with those issued to Bush and Clinton.

Second, there have been plenty of examples of people with hard left political tendencies committing violence and attempted violence. From the Chick-fil-A shooter at the Family Resarch Council to the Unabomber to the House softball practice shooting, such examples abound. There have also been people who have been inspired to violence recently by the racial justice protests, as the Las Vegas policeman ambushed and shot in the head back in June could attest.

So, we have established that it an atmosphere of great tension exists, Presidents regularly get threatened in this way, and there have been people in the past with a political bent (theoretically) opposite t the President who have committed violence. This provides us with a very reasonable possibility of the ricin being sent by an opponent.

Now consider what would be necessary if it were being done at Trump’s direction.

First, Trump would have to show casual disregard for the safety and health of others. Let’s look at the pandemic response… check. Checkcheckcheck.

Next, Trump would have to direct someone to do it. He likes giving commands, particularly shady commands via oblique messaging if the Cohen book (and others) are to be believed. Check.

Third, that person would have to be unable to assess whether there was a likelihood of a significant bounce from a fairly routine death threat. As these are somewhat common, and Trump tends to surround himself with conniving individuals, the chance that they would be unable to perform a basic risk/reward assessment on a dirty trick is fairly low. But let’s assume that Trump really, truly wanted this… it might provide enough impetus to overcome their misgivings. Check, with reservations.

Fourth, that person would need to trust Trump implicitly not to betray him or her if they were caught. Sending the material through the mail triggers a severe punishment, and if anyone in the chain dies (always a possibility with a ricin envelope) it would add a charge of premeditated murder. We have repeatedly seen that Trump is willing to throw even his closest allies under the bus for comparatively minor offenses. We have also seen from the barrage of books from ex-staffers that even those in Trump’s inner circle, with the possible exception of Kushner and his immediate family, fully recognize that they may be thrown away at some point. This point is problematic for the theory, because it is very unlikely that anyone chosen to enact the plan would trust Trump to have their back if things went wrong.

Fifth, that person would then need to obtain ricin. This is not a substance most people have sitting in their spice rack, and while it is not especially difficult to manufacture it is highly dangerous. The chance of people who are inexperienced with organic chemistry (legal or not) casually manufacturing it without danger to themselves is very low. This introduces another person into the conspiracy.

This is where the theory goes completely off the rails. In addition to the concerns of step four, we now have a situation where a leak-heavy White House would be able to keep quiet a request for ricin, despite a second person being expected to hold to the same qualifications of step four: that they are willing to trust President Trump to not let their lives be destroyed in exchange for covering his own ass. One person experienced enough to work in the White House but willing to fall for that line of reasoning would be difficult to find; two or more, effectively impossible.

For that reason, no, I don’t believe for a moment that Trump sent himself ricin. It seems completely implausible upon examination.

Does this mean that the person who sent it might not be one of his supporters, trying to give him a poll bump? Certainly… but again, Occam’s Razor should be employed. It’s possible, but less likely than him being sent something by one of his enemies.

Does this mean that Trump is not committing other forms of crimes, and is not willing to undermine the integrity of the election process? Of course not. There’s ample evidence of both of them.

But the “sent himself ricin” argument is inane, and should be treated as such.

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.

About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.

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