The list of Donald Trump’s crimes against the American people, American democracy and the American presidency grows longer every day. But on Friday, Trump delivered arguably his most unforgivable performance to date. Yes, it’s worse than perhaps anything else he’s done, short of aiding and abetting the ongoing Russian hacking of our elections and infrastructure.
Today, Trump met for around two hours, not including the subsequent pool spray afterward, with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Since there aren’t any transcripts, we don’t know exactly what Trump and Putin said to each other, but numerous press outlets have reported on reactions from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others.
What we know at this point is that Trump accepted Putin’s insistence that Russia didn’t interfere in last year’s election. Tillerson also said that Trump and Putin “connected.” Yeah, I’m sure. We also heard from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who apparently said, “Trump told Putin that some circles in the U.S. are exaggerating the topic of Russian cyber meddling.” And finally, we’re hearing that a Russia/U.S. “joint working group” on cybersecurity is being established. What could possibly go wrong? This is like setting up an al-Qaeda/U.S. joint task force on airport security.
Not only did Trump take sides with a foreign despot against American citizens who work inside the intelligence community, which was mind-numbingly unpatriotic enough, he also took sides with Putin against American journalists.
During the joint photo op following the meeting, Putin leaned in to Trump, pointed to the press pool and asked, “These are the ones that insulted you?” Trump grinned, nodded his head and said, “You’re right about that.” It’s impossible to fully describe how offensive that was. Trump willingly ganged up against his fellow citizens. The president of the United States joined Putin in attacking American journalists. The president did this.
I don’t care how much Trump blurts “fake news” or “dishonest media” while he’s here, but while he’s outside our borders, he needs to shut his orange yapper about it. A little discipline, please, Mr. President.
I suppose “America First” doesn’t matter any more. Traveling to foreign soil and taking shots at his own people shows us exactly where Trump’s loyalties reside, and they’re certainly not with his own people, nor is it about putting them “first.” His loyalties don’t appear to be with either his own intelligence community or with journalists who, by the way, are explicitly protected in the First Amendment due to the Founders’ rightful prioritization of a free press.
There’s a scene in The Godfather that’s been replaying over and over in my head. It’s the scene in which Fredo stupidly defends Mo Green’s tirade against the Corleone family, to which Michael replies, “Fredo, you’re my brother and I love you, but don’t ever takes sides with anyone against the family again.”
The veracity of our news media is a family matter, an American debate. It’s profoundly unacceptable for this mentally incompetent reality show toddler to join Putin in ridiculing our press — our American press. I don’t care if it was the most googly-eyed Fox News screecher they were teasing. You just don’t do that. Especially not if you’re the president. Remember when the Republicans ripped Bill Clinton to shreds in 1992 when it got out that, as a young man during the late 1960s, Clinton joined an anti-Vietnam War protest in Moscow? Trump’s kneeslapping with Putin is lightyears more egregious.
And then there’s Putin himself. Politifact assembled a spreadsheet illustrating the harrowing lack of press freedom in Putin’s Russia. It turns out that at least 34 journalists have been executed in Russia since Putin rose to power in 2000. In other words, it’s likely that Putin has been slowly murdering opposition journalists in his own country for 17 years now. Yet Trump joined this dictator in jabbing our journalists and our free press.
Trump owes not just the news media but all Americans an apology for so many things, especially for his behavior on this terrible day when our very own president assisted a foreign dictator in yet another attack on our democratic institutions.
Don’t ever take sides against American citizens again, Mr. President. Ever.