It's difficult to overstate how numbingly horrific Trump's press conference in Poland was yesterday. Not just trashing the U.S. intelligence agencies -- on foreign soil -- but trashing a former U.S. president -- on foreign soil, as well as trashing the American news media -- on foreign soil. It wasn't all that long ago when the Dixie Chicks simply said that they were embarrassed being from Texas where George W. Bush was from, and because they were on foreign soil, their music career was basically ruined. And here is the U.S. president, on foreign soil, supposedly representing the country to the world,dismantling core values instead. It was ghastly.
It's worse than that, but that's just a quick overview. After all, he was standing next to the Polish leader who has instituted his own draconian measures against a free press in Poland, and rather than take him to task for that, which probably every other U.S. president would have done, Trump instead embraced the Pole as a compatriot in his own fight against the media. In essence telling the world not to worry about having a free press, and freedom of speech in their own countries, because the U.S. president doesn't care about it.
And Trump's answer to MSNBC reporter Hallie Jackson's question about why he isn't accepting every intelligence agencies' reports that Russia tried to manipulate the U.S. election was a hot, irrational, rambling mess. Only still daring to say "I think" that Russia did it, but adding nobody knows for sure -- when, in fact, ALL the agencies say that they know for sure it was Russia based on actual evidence they've uncovered. And still saying that there could have been other countries attacking us, as well -- without having the slightest evidence that this is the case. Zero. None. And again, this was said on foreign soil, which in essence is telling the world that the United States doesn't trust its intelligence agencies.
(Further, this doesn't take into consideration his bizarre, rambling answer about 17 agencies, and do we even have 17 agencies, and it was really just 3 or 4, not 17, and -- it was so creepy that I was expecting to pull metal balls out of his pocket and start rolling them around in his hand to calm himself, while explaining that he knew someone had taken the strawberries and that he had scientifically proven it. If they ever do a remake of The Caine Mutiny, Trump would make a great 'Captain Queeg.')
By the way, as a side note, the next time Trump says that hacking "could be someone else," I dearly hope someone asks him -- based on what evidence? And where is that from? And no, InfoWars doesn't count.
And I can only imagine how aghast the world press was as Trump stood there on foreign soil started slamming Barack Obama for doing nothing to stop the attacks -- which isn't remotely true.
(By the way, in addition to President Obama imposing sanctions on Russia -- which Trump himself wants to dismantle -- and telling Putin to stop, what Trump surely forgets is that Mr. Obama did actually warn the American public about Russian efforts to manipulate the U.S. election. But in some ways that's understandable because Obama's warning about Russia got overlooked in the news media because it was made the same day another story broke, the Access Hollywood tape of Trump talking about his sexual abuse of women grabbing them in their...oh, you know where.)
All on foreign soil. It would have been dismal anywhere -- and is -- but on foreign soil it's unconscionable.
But for anyone thinking God doesn't have a sense of humor, all of this whimsically occurred on the very same day that the U.S. Ethics Chief, Walter Schaub, quit.
The Ethics Chief, who has been battled Trump and his administration, had scathing comments to make. "American should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are," he said, while nothing that that hasn't been possible with Trump. He added as well, that while he didn't know for absolute certain if the Trump family was trying to financially profit illegally from its time in the White House, that was the end result of many of their actions, regardless.
The good news is that Congress has to approve the next Ethics Chief. The bad news is that this is still a Republican Congress which has shown next to zero backbone in pushing back against a Republican president who is acting so egregiously, and that it's Trump who would be making the nomination, and mostly that there is no guarantee that he even will nominate a new Ethics Chief and simply leave the position unfilled.
O how telling that would be. How telling it is. No Ethics Chief in the United States. What a shock.
I look forward to Trump's next press conference, explaining to the world -- on foreign soil -- why the U.S. doesn't need an Ethics Chief.
But then, after sending his love letter and a kiss to Vladimir Putt from his press conference yesterday, Trump will be meeting with Putin today, so it's not like things will be getting any better. On foreign soil.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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