Trump Endears Himself To White Supremacists… And Putin, Again… While America Gets Sicker

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The nation is full of racial strife, although on the whole, the BLM movement is peaceful and making rapid progress.

 It’s ultimately all one thing: Donald J. Trump needs to be removed from office for abuse of power and dereliction of duty.

The Washington Post’s article published Sunday evening made it very clear numerous people knew about the bounties and that nothing had been done about them:

Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed or targeted under the program. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, and 16 in 2019. Two have been killed this year. In each of those years, several service members were also killed by what are known as “green on blue” hostile incidents by Afghan security forces who are sometimes believed to have been infiltrated by the Taliban.

Multiple interrogations. Multiple people familiar.

Zero action taken.

And along with multiple U.S. service members dead, an unknown number of allies’ troops, contractors, civilian killed.

If Trump genuinely believed in getting out of Afghanistan through an effective peace agreement, this is its opposite even with a partial American force draw down. It’s how a country becomes even more destabilized and how its violence will spill over and follow U.S. and coalition partners home.

Trump had no problem with Putin stabbing him in the back because it was Putin, and he never has anything negative to say about Putin.

A little after midnight The New York Times published another article, this time expanding the period of time Trump should have known about Russia’s bounties to February 2019, along with the period of time in which Trump took zero action.

Three U.S. service members were killed in a blast last April, attributed to Taliban motivated by the Russian bounties.

Trump was notified at least once in a Presidential Daily Briefing in ample time to do something.

The excuses offered by the White House have been little more than variants of “The dog ate my homework.”

All bullshit.

The response has been just as stupid and ugly — offering Congressional Republicans a briefing first, allowing them to coordinate a response to cover the White House’s wretchedness.

The administration has been all over the map today in their attempts to explain and explain away the unfolding and evolving reporting on how Russian military intelligence, the GRU, has been offering bounties to the Taliban and Taliban affiliated officials to entice them to kill US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The White House Press Secretary kicked things off by asserting that the US Intelligence Community (IC) had differing opinions regarding this intelligence and because there was no consensus, it was not briefed to the President. The Press Secretary also stated that the President has still not been briefed on this matter!!!!

She made her statements shortly after it was reported that the US Congress would be given a briefing on this intelligence, reading them onto what the IC knows and is reporting. The briefing was done at the White House. This reporting was clarified about an hour later: the briefing would only be for Republicans. And while we now know that the Democrats in Congress will get a briefing on this tomorrow, doing it this way is a SERIOUS PROBLEM!!!! The reason we have a Gang of 8 – the Speaker and Minority Leader in the House, the Majority and Minority Leaders in the Senate, and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees in each chamber – is to ensure that everyone gets briefed on this stuff at the same time. This is also the reason we are supposed to have a bipartisan intelligence oversight process within both the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) where everyone gets briefed at the same time. And the reason that the Gang of 8 or the members of both parties on the intelligence committees get briefed at the same time is to prevent accusations that one side is being told something the other side isn’t. To avoid the politicization of intelligence. And to prevent one side from being told something the other side isn’t.

As I type this, Congressman Schiff, the chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has just told Chris Hayes that the Republicans on his committee are boycotting the committee hearings. He indicated that despite these hearing being unclassified and on unclassified matters, the Republican members of the committee don’t believe the hearings are secure enough because they’re being done by video-teleconference or include video-teleconferencing, so they’re boycotting them. This is a problem in and of itself, but it also exacerbates the problem of the Democrats and the Republicans being briefed separately on this matter by the White House. Because there will be no way for the Democrats to be sure that what they are told tomorrow morning is the same thing that the Republicans were told this afternoon. Especially because the Republican members of Congress who were briefed this afternoon immediately took steps to frame what they were told so as to reset and reframe the reporting on this issue. Here’s the statement from Republican Congressmen McCaul and Kinzinger:

Updating the Analysis On the Russian Bounties On US & Coalition Forces Reporting & the New Reporting On the President's Calls With Foreign Leaders

Not a terrible statement. Of concern is the fact that both the Director of National Intelligence and the White House Chief of Staff who were involved in the briefing were two of the most divisively partisan members of the Republican caucus in the House until they were tapped this spring to go to work for the administration in positions that neither are qualified for. Another Republican member of the House who was briefed, who, like Congressman Kinzinger, is a veteran, issued a far more detailed statement in a tweet thread. A statement that shows just how the intelligence is going to be framed and who is responsible for all of this:

I just left the White House where I was briefed by CoS @MarkMeadows and top intelligence officials. They discussed @nytimes‘ hit piece falsely accusing @realDonaldTrump of ignoring reports that Russia placed bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

A thread, 👇

— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) June 29, 2020

Having served in Afghanistan during the time the alleged bounties were placed, no one is angrier about this than me.

Now it’s impossible to finish the investigation. All b/c the @nytimes will do anything to damage @realdonaldtrump, even if it means compromising nat’l security.

— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) June 29, 2020

Americans don’t buy the phony Russia-Trump-Collusion narrative.

THEY SEE President Trump’s rock solid record in support of our troops, our veterans & American exceptionalism. THEY SEE the media walk back claims of a Trump-Russia scandal over & over. So tired. Change it up!

— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) June 29, 2020

This is going to be the official line going forward. That this isn’t a failure of the President and his senior national security principals to take threats to US and coalition forces seriously or to push back on Putin for increasing the threats they face while deployed in Afghanistan. Rather, the real scandal here is that The New York Times wrote a hit piece, which has now somehow destroyed the intelligence process making it impossible to really know what is going on. Congressman Banks, (R-IN 03) might as well have just come out and stated that nothing is true, therefore anything is possible, so who knows? The administration given separate briefings to the Republicans and Democrats in Congress will make this worse because there will be no way to really know that members of both caucuses were given the exact same briefings and received the exact same information.

But here’s the rub: nothing Trump, his evil minions in the White House, his useless family, his political party can do will explain away the lack of interest in protecting national security.

Because while the intelligence about the Russian bounties lay around collecting dust, at the very same goddamned time, Trump and his minions were busy working on developing a quid pro quo aimed at Ukraine.

Trump spent more time focused on using the power of the executive office to shake down Ukraine, harassing faithful federal employees like former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, in order to get himself re-elected to the job he refuses to do.

He put more effort into a couple of phone calls to Ukraine’s president.

More effort into halting shipment of arms to Ukraine.

More effort bitching about a whistleblower.

And zero effort into addressing his buddy Putin’s bounties on U.S. troops.

Donald J. Trump is a threat to this nation because he cannot and will not do anything to protect this country unless its about him.

More than 130,000 Americans have now died because of this immutable truth: 3000 Puerto Rican Americans, an untold number of American troops, and at least 128,000 COVID-19 victims are dead because Trump is absolutely useless for anything but golf and grifting from taxpayers.

Here is a great piece by James Fallows on Trump’s response to the pandemic is just fantastic:

Imagine if the National Transportation Safety Board investigated America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coping with a pandemic is one of the most complex challenges a society can face. To minimize death and damage, leaders and citizens must orchestrate a huge array of different resources and tools. Scientists must explore the most advanced frontiers of research while citizens attend to the least glamorous tasks of personal hygiene. Physical supplies matter—test kits, protective gear—but so do intangibles, such as “flattening the curve” and public trust in official statements. The response must be global, because the virus can spread anywhere, but an effective response also depends heavily on national policies, plus implementation at the state and community level. Businesses must work with governments, and epidemiologists with economists and educators. Saving lives demands minute-by-minute attention from health-care workers and emergency crews, but it also depends on advance preparation for threats that might not reveal themselves for many years. I have heard military and intelligence officials describe some threats as requiring a “whole of nation” response, rather than being manageable with any one element of “hard” or “soft” power or even a “whole of government” approach. Saving lives during a pandemic is a challenge of this nature and magnitude.

It is a challenge that the United States did not meet. During the past two months, I have had lengthy conversations with some 30 scientists, health experts, and past and current government officials—all of them people with firsthand knowledge of what our response to the coronavirus pandemic should have been, could have been, and actually was. The government officials had served or are still serving in the uniformed military, on the White House staff, or in other executive departments, and in various intelligence agencies. Some spoke on condition of anonymity, given their official roles. As I continued these conversations, the people I talked with had noticeably different moods. First, in March and April, they were astonished and puzzled about what had happened. Eventually, in May and June, they were enraged. “The president kept a cruise ship from landing in California, because he didn’t want ‘his numbers’ to go up,” a former senior government official told me. He was referring to Donald Trump’s comment, in early March, that he didn’t want infected passengers on the cruise ship Grand Princess to come ashore, because “I like the numbers being where they are.” Trump didn’t try to write this comment off as a “joke,” his go-to defense when his remarks cause outrage, including his June 20 comment in Tulsa that he’d told medical officials to “slow the testing down, please” in order to keep the reported-case level low. But the evidence shows that he has been deadly earnest about denying the threat of COVID-19, and delaying action against it.

“Look at what the numbers are now,” this same official said, in late April, at a moment when the U.S. death toll had just climbed above 60,000, exceeding the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. By late June, the total would surpass 120,000—more than all American military deaths during World War I. “If he had just been paying attention, he would have asked, ‘What do I do first?’ We wouldn’t have passed the threshold of casualties in previous wars. It is a catastrophic failure.”

As an amateur pilot, I can’t help associating the words catastrophic failure with an accident report. The fact is, confronting a pandemic has surprising parallels with the careful coordination and organization that has saved large numbers of lives in air travel. Aviation is safe in large part because it learns from its disasters. Investigators from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board go immediately to accident sites to begin assessing evidence. After months or even years of research, their detailed reports try to lay out the “accident chain” and explain what went wrong. In deciding whether to fly if I’m tired or if the weather is marginal, I rely on a tie-breaking question: How would this look in an NTSB report?

What an interesting way of looking at this.

He is unfit for the office of the presidency.

He must be removed from office.

But Trump is not the only failure. Every GOP senator who voted not to convict him this January is responsible for this debacle. American blood is on their hands having enabled Trump’s continuing incompetence and malignance because they were worried about him tweeting mean things at them.

They should be worried about their asses meeting the wrath of the American public.

We can start by demanding better of the GOP senators who we will be forced to live with for another two to four years. Find out where they stand on Trump’s failure to protect the troops.

And if one of the following senators up for re-election is your senator, vote them out of office. Vote for a Democrat to replace the two open seats because no matter who wins the White House, we need a veto-proof majority in the Senate to fix this mess.

SenatorFirst NamePartyState
CapitoShelley MooreRWV
Hyde-Smith (1)CindyRMS
McSally (2)MarthaRAZ
Loeffler (3)Kelly LynnRGA
Roberts (4)PatRKS
Alexander (5)LamarRTN

(1) Appointed to fill Thad Cochran’s seat, expected to run in 2020
(2) Appointed to fill John McCain’s seat, running in 2020
(3) Appointed to fill Johnny Isakson’s seat, running in 2020
(4) Retiring in 2020. Seat open.
(5) Retiring in 2020. Seat open.