Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Did the President Know and Did He Know He was Doing it?

I can't get over the idea that President Trump might not even know what the hell he's doing, even if that is the jist of several articles published about him recently. But with a sad, heavy sigh, I look at the very dumb, very obvious latest: the story from the Washington Post, now corroborated by several outlets, that Trump revealed classified intelligence produced by one of our allies to the Russians at the little meet and greet that was so weird as to be notable last week.

Sure, Putin asks him to host Lavrov and Kislyak and try to keep Kislyak on the down-low, and they talk about this and that--and Trump gets around to dishing some classified intel. Well, the POTUS does enjoy the discretion to declassify intelligence if he thinks it's warranted. It's part of the toolkit. It's right up there with firing the FBI Director--a thing he can do if he wants to. A privilege of being the executive. But why that information, to the Russians, in the Oval Office...

It would be great if we could even be assured that Trump was working with the Russians on intelligence on purpose, right? If he could just be normal and say we are working together against ISIS and this is necessary and steps were taken to not fuck everything up by contacting the ally that obtained the intelligence in question to protect the source and not burn our Five Eyes relationship...

But I don't think he is capable of that mature kind of high-functioning decision-making (whether you would agree with the reasoning of my scenario, it would be on the up-and-up). The thing with Trump is, he really is out of his league in this arena and his defining personality trait is to show off. What was he doing in the "Access Hollywood" tape, really, but crudely showing off about what he gets away with when it comes to women? He showed off for Shinzo Abe at Mar-A-Lago, even if that wasn't great security protocol.  He got giddy showing his nice Russian friends that he too, gets information, and blurted out something he shouldn't--

Plausible? Well, the alternative is he knew very well what he was doing, and intentionally wrecked some of our intelligence alliances after having done not a super-great job of conveying his competence to the IC here at home. See, when some serious person like James Clapper conveys the thought that Trump has left our institutions "under assault"--this might not just mean deliberately.  He could do untold damage unknowingly, thoughtlessly, uncaringly, too. And the intent is beside the point, because the result is the same. And we can't even take serious Trump surrogates and cabinet members at their word because this administration has shown public duplicity on numerous occasions. And we are only what, not--116 days in? It feels like an eternity, rather like you might feel if you were in the backseat of a bus being driven by a toddler. Let me be uncharacteristic and say, there is a pretty good take from David Brooks (I don't say that thing, do I?) And, the idea that Trump is just an egomaniac adult baby meets with Josh Marshall's overall Trump's Razor doctrine of assuming the stupidest when it comes to him.

But all the same, whether we think Trump is actually treasonous or just too stupid to be president, he is fulfilling the warnings made about him.

He just can't be trusted.



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