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Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win — a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.
Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own.
Steyer doesn’t care that Democratic leaders are worried that he could blow their chance at winning the House by talking up impeachment around the country and in his TV ads—though he argues he’s actually helping Democrats. He says he’s the only person willing to tell the truth. And the thing about a self-made billionaire with nothing to lose: it’s hard for anyone to convince him he might be wrong, or to get him to stop.
“Impeaching the president of the United States is upsetting the status quo. Anytime in American history that there has been an attempt to upset the status quo, there have been people within the status quo—within the establishment—saying, ‘It may be true, it may be something we should deal with, it may be important, but not now,’” Steyer told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast. “If you look at the civil rights movement, the pushback was not, ‘You’re not telling the truth,’ the pushback was, ‘We’re dealing with it in time. Stand down so we can deal with it in time.’”
But in January of this year, the Santa Ana government shut down the exchange by denying it a permit for the local civic center.
The city’s justification focused on a common trope used against exchanges: needle litter — the idea that exchanges let people get a lot of syringes that are then improperly disposed in public places, exposing the public to the risk of getting inadvertently stuck by a needle.
Based on communications obtained by Vox, the Santa Ana program made changes and offered to take further steps in cooperation with the city to deal with needle litter. But city officials moved forward with closing down the exchange anyway.
The decades of research into needle exchanges is clear: The programs combat the spread of bloodborne diseases like hepatitis C and HIV, cut down on the number of needles thrown out in public spaces, and link more people to treatment — all without enabling more drug use.
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