There’s a name for this trick where you defend yourself against an obviously false accusation rather than addressing the principle allegation. The one you’d rather not face.
Here’s Craig Shirley writing for the Washington Post about Stefan Halper, the “informant” who reported to the FBI on Trump campaign officials.
…there is one thing my reporting has found he did not do: He was not involved in stealing President Jimmy Carter’s briefing books during the 1980 presidential election.
Mr. Shirley goes on to claim,
At the time, he (Stefan Halper) was just a low-level aide to the Reagan campaign. Nothing more, nothing less.
What I find puzzling about Mr. Shirley’s lengthy piece is that it never addresses the primary accusations against Mr. Halper. And these aren’t just random claims on a blog. This is the New York Times back in the 1980s.
…The sources identified Stefan A. Halper, a campaign aide involved in providing 24-hour news updates and policy ideas to the traveling Reagan party, as the person in charge.
An operation to collect inside information on Carter Administration foreign policy was run in Ronald Reagan’s campaign headquarters in the 1980 Presidential campaign, according to present and former Reagan Administration officials.
Those sources said they did not know exactly what information the operation produced or whether it was anything beyond the usual grab bag of rumors and published news reports. But they said it involved a number of retired Central Intelligence Agency officials and was highly secretive.