Over the weekend, Donald Trump's handlers stupidly allowed him to be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC to talk about his presidential campaign, Vladimir Putin, and foreign policy. Knowing him, it is remarkable that those responsible for getting him elected would put him in front of a semi-decent journalist who would, you know, ask legitimate questions -- but that's what they did, and the results were an unmitigated disaster.
Stephanopoulous went for Trump with ruthless efficiency, grilling him on the numerous lies he has told over the years about his relationship with Vladimir Putin, his stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, his inability to produce his tax returns, his changing positions on Michael Bloomberg, his amazing hypocrisy on hiring foreign workers, and his slandering of Khizr Khan, the Muslim father who spoke at the Democratic convention about his son who was killed in combat fighting for America. At every turn, Trump blustered and bullshitted, but Stephanopoulous kept going and brilliantly exposed just how completely unqualified he is to be anywhere near the White House. If one interaction summed up Trump's sheer idiocy, it was over the Russian invasion of Ukraine -- a topic Trump stumbled on so badly it is a miracle his campaign staff didn't shut the interview down then and there. Here's the transcript of the exchange:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, they took away the— part of the platform calling for provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Why is that a good idea?
TRUMP: It’s— look, you know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, okay, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?
TRUMP: Okay— well, he’s there in a certain way...You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you're talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he's going where -- he takes -- takes Crimea, he's sort of -- I mean...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you said you might recognize that.
TRUMP: I'm going to take a look at it. But, you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also...
To be clear about this, Crimea is part of Ukraine and the annexation was condemned by the United Nations and widely criticized by the international community. To assert that "He’s not going into Ukraine" when he already has, isn't just ignorant, it is mind-blowingly stupid and more evidence of his childish understanding of geopolitics. Trump's silly little pivot to blaming Obama for the crisis in Ukraine did not, as he assumed, deflect attention from his blunder -- it compounded it. No one outside of idiotic far right wing circles believes Obama can be blamed for Russia annexing Crimea, so his use of the president as a scapegoat for his idiocy was completely counterproductive. Furthermore, given Trump ostensibly supports the annexation, how then can he blame Obama for not doing anything about it? Like most of Trump's political positions, they make absolutely no sense at all given he changes them on literally a minute to minute basis.
The rest of the interview was dire beyond belief as Trump continued to lie over and over again without the faintest regard for intellectual honesty or objective reality. But then this is what we have come to expect from him, and even his own campaign staff don't seem bothered by it.