You have to wonder whether Donald Trump is actively trying to get himself impeached. He clearly desperately wants out of the job he hates, and is doing everything in his power to isolate himself from his party and the entire US government. In response to a question about Vladimir Putin expelling US diplomats after Congress passed sweeping sanctions on Russia, Trump had the following to say:
I want to thank him [Putin] because we’re trying to cut down on payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll. There’s no real reason for them to go back. So I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’ll save a lot of money.
Q: Thoughts on Putin expelling US diplomats?
Trump: "I greatly appreciate the fact that they’ve been able to cut our payroll." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/iR5JbHLHZj
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 10, 2017
The comments predictably went down like a lead balloon with employees at the State Department, who are already disillusioned by the Trump administration’s reckless behavior. Reported Politico:
A senior U.S. diplomat serving overseas called Trump’s remarks “outrageous” and said it could lead more State Department staffers to head for the exits.
“This is so incredibly demoralizing and disrespectful to people serving their country in harm’s way,” the diplomat said.
“I kid you not, I have heard from three different people in the last five minutes,” one State Department official told POLITICO shortly after Trump’s comments. “Everyone seems pretty amazed. This statement is naive and shortsighted. It sends a terrible signal to local employees everywhere.”
Asides from this being incredible offensive to US diplomats and other government workers, Trump’s flippant remarks are yet another indication that he doesn’t fully grasp what diplomats — and by extension, the State Department — actually do. Reported the NY Times:
American officials said the reduction ordered by Mr. Putin will have a significant effect on services, resulting, for example, in much slower processing of visas for Russian travelers to the United States. Another major function of any embassy is to collect local information and intelligence to inform policy makers back home, which will likely be hindered as a result.
“Cutting our staff by 755 people will do tremendous damage to our diplomatic mission in Russia,” said Michael A. McFaul, who was ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. “That our president does not appreciate this obvious fact suggests he doesn’t understand what embassies do in the pursuit of American national interests.”
Trump’s continued refusal to criticize Russia or Vladimir Putin is also extremely alarming. Given every major US intelligence agency has stated unequivocally that the Kremlin ordered the cyber attacks that directly interfered with the 2016 election, it is incredible that the US president opposes sanctions on Russia and won’t say a bad word about Putin. Trump supporters have argued that the case for Trump campaign team colluding with the Russians is nonexistent, but can’t answer why the president won’t criticize Putin when there is clear evidence he ordered cyber attacks on an American election.
This is not normal, and the Mueller investigation can’t be concluded soon enough.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.