Bragging about our intel to Russia? Trump is too needy to be president

Richard Wolffe – The Guardian

So desperate is Trump to impress the Russians, it seems he’s giving away our most classified information. The only winner here is Vladimir Putin

There is nothing Donald Trump loves more than a great superlative. He builds the tallest hotels. He is the most successful businessman. His inaugural crowds were the biggest ever. None of these claims are remotely true, no matter how exaggerated the adjective nor how emphatic the delivery.

But after his alleged blabbing of highly classified intelligence to the Russians, Trump can now lay claim to the greatest superlative of any sitting president: he is the biggest bozo of them all. Bigger than the Bush who thought invading Iraq would be easy. Bigger than the biggest president who got stuck in his bathtub.

Trump is the most unpatriotically reckless, most flamboyantly ignorant, most ludicrously incompetent of them all. Never mind The Apprentice, he’s actually The Biggest Loser.

There are only a few explanations for why the 45th president of the United States would reveal the most sensitive intel about Isis capabilities to one of the least trustworthy countries on the planet. The Washington Post reported that Trump shared classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador about an Isis threat. After all, this intel is so sensitive that we haven’t shared it with our real allies for fear of disclosing vital sources and methods. Even the denials from the White House look pathetically brief. It was the desire to suppress this intel from the official account of the Russian meeting that led to the collective face-palm of the US intelligence community.

So how could Trump be so stupid? It’s impossible that he was clueless about the classified information he was leaking: he was clearly bragging about having the best intel to his Russian buddies.

It’s also impossible that he thinks it’s fine to leak classified intel. He ran an entire presidential campaign – the greatest ever, he claims to anyone mad enough to listen to him – on the premise that Hillary Clinton should be locked up for mishandling classified intel.

In fact, just last week he fired his FBI director James Comey for at least two reasons. The official (fake) reason was that he botched the Clinton investigation. The unofficial (true) reason was Comey was spending too much time investigating Trump’s Russian collusion and too little time investigating the leaking of classified info to the media.

No, even the bozo-in-chief isn’t stupid enough to think it’s OK to hand out information like presidential M&Ms to anyone who walks into the Oval Office.

It seems Trump sees nothing wrong in being so close to the Russians that he spills his guts about our most precious intelligence. He is so desperate to impress them that he cannot distinguish between American interests and his own neediness. America First means Trump First, and if Trump wants to brag about his inaugural crowds or his intel reports, it’s all good. As Richard Nixon liked to say, if the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.

Case in point: what were the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador even doing inside the Oval Office on the day after Trump fired Comey over the Russian investigation? Why couldn’t he understand that this might confirm the worst fears about his collusion with Russia?

The simple answer is that he sees nothing wrong in colluding with the Russians. Or inviting into the Oval Office their photographer. Vladimir Putin has no need to eavesdrop on an American president who is willing to tell his cronies everything useful about his vast national security infrastructure.

Of course, we know from Trump’s personal lawyers that apart from several tens of millions of dollars, Trump’s tax returns show no money from Russian sources. Just several tens of millions of dollars that are easily linked to Russia. The rest we’ll never know about because we’ll never see the tax returns or the business workings of the Trump empire.

It’s here that all comparisons with Nixon need to cease. Say what you like about the crook, but Nixon was no friend of Moscow. In those days, to be a friend of the Kremlin meant you were also a communist. To be a friend of the Kremlin today means you are a friend of a kleptocracy.

In the world of Hollywood movies and airport fiction, we are witnessing an unsubtle foreshadowing of Trump’s final demise in a dumpster fire of Russian documents and cash. What we don’t yet know is the fate of the Republican party that is so content to stand by and watch its own reputation burn with the same garbage.

This is the party that, not so long ago, ran several election cycles claiming nobody else could be trusted with national security. Before that, it claimed it was going to restore honesty and integrity to the Oval Office in place of a president who got impeached. Just last year it claimed that Clinton should never be trusted with classified intel because she was under FBI investigation for sending it via her private email server.

The GOP has gone far beyond the bounds of hypocrisy. It now faces an existential crisis about what kind of values it represents. If it cannot or will not break with Trump after the last week of daily crises, then it is doomed to fight the next election on whether it stands with the biggest bozo of them all.

Democrats will face the quandary of impeaching Trump or leaving a castrated president and the remnants of his party in place for a total wipeout in 2020. Of course, Senate Republicans may decide this for themselves by voting Trump innocent in his impeachment trial in 2019. In which case, they can all find jobs when the latest Trump resort opens in Vladivostok two years later.

In the meantime, the only clear winner from the Trump fiasco is Putin. With a few million dollars and few phishing emails, he has compromised and destabilized the entire western alliance, its intelligence-sharing operations, and the moral authority of the United States.

Clinton warned us on national television that Trump was Putin’s puppet. His response was as terrified as it was childish: you’re the puppet, he sputtered. Even then, Clinton could not have known how obviously wooden this Pinocchio was.

 

Annex:

The Donald Trump Impeachment Clock Is Ticking

By John Nichols – The Nation

Congressman Mark Pocan says it has “moved us an hour closer to midnight.”

The “Doomsday Clock,” which members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board have maintained since 1947 as a measure of “how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making,” moved 30 seconds closer to midnight in the week after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president. “It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms,” the scientists warned. “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”

Citizens of the United States cannot address all the threats posed by all the errant leaders of all the countries on a planet that has plenty of problems. But they do have a duty to be on alert to threats posed by elected and appointed officials who fail to recognize their responsibilities, who act irrationally, or who disregard the rule of law.

That duty has Congressman Mark Pocan talking about an impeachment clock. President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which led Wisconsin’s Pocan to post a watch face with Trump’s picture on his Twitter feed with the message: “Trump firing Comey reminds me of the doomsday clock, but maybe we should start an impeachment one.” Pocan suggests that the president’s firing of Comey has “moved us an hour closer to midnight.”

This is not the first time that the first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has spoken about the importance of the impeachment power that is outlined in the Constitution. That power is both formal and informal. Explaining that the threat of impeachment could put pressure on the Trump White House to respect the rule of law, Pocan argued on a conference call organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that constitutional remedies must be “on the table as an option, especially if, indeed, there was obstruction of justice.”

If obstruction of justice is a genuine concern, however, the clock should not tick just for Trump. It should also tick for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As Congressman John Conyers, the former House Judiciary Committee chairman, explained last week: “I am particularly concerned that President Trump fired Director Comey based in part on the recommendation of Attorney General Sessions—who was forced to recuse himself from the underlying investigation based on his own actions and misconduct. This shocking decision by the president is beyond the pale and itself warrants independent inquiry and hearings, and reinforces the need for the attorney general himself to step down given his own obvious and ongoing conflicts.”

California Senator Kamala Harris, a former state attorney general, has joined in the calls for Trump’s attorney general to step down, arguing that “There is good reason to believe that he was not truthful when he testified before Congress.… Then just in the last 48 hours that he would sign off on firing the person who is investigating the case he’s recused from calls into question his objectivity and his ability to keep his word.”

If Sessions will not hold himself to account, then members of the House, Democrats and Republicans, have a duty to consider moves to impeach the attorney general. Sessions cannot be allowed to remain in a position he obtained after deceiving the Senate Judiciary Committee and then dishonored by abandoning his own recusal.

There will be those who resist talk of impeachment. But Pocan is not among them. He is right to raise the prospect that an impeachment clock is ticking. (Indeed, for some groups, the alarm has already gone off: Last week Democracy for America called for impeachment, saying, “From his unconstitutional and un-American Muslim ban to his numerous business conflicts of interest that are generating personal profit for his family at taxpayer expense, Trump has proven over and over that he’s unfit for office. On Tuesday night, Trump gave another powerful reason for his impeachment: In a repeat of Richard Nixon’s most notorious actions during the Watergate scandal, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.”)

There may ultimately be multiple impeachment clocks for multiple members of this lawless administration. They may tick at different speeds. But, after last week, the Jeff Sessions clock is not ticking. It’s spinning. •

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