Donald Trump, despite his obsessive and destructive use of Twitter, doesn’t seem to know anything about the internet. He doesn’t know about the behemoth resource called “Google” or its subsidiary “YouTube.” Using either platform, it’s relatively easy to unearth clips, news stories, previous statements and suspicious photographs of events from the past. If he knew about these things, he’d perhaps be less inclined to tweet the usually spasmodic series of utter fabrications and superlatives, knowing they’re easily debunkable with little or no effort.
It was an especially berserker weekend for our comicbook supervillain president. His tweets were considerably more insecure and whinier than usual. Clearly, Biff’s losing his shpadoinkle over the Russia indictments and, on top of everything else, the news that Rick Gates is ratting on Paul Manafort, making the latter more inclined to flip, too. And the only suspect above Manafort is, naturally, Trump himself.
So, then, Trump’s education in Russian agitprop led him into the well-worn territory of “whataboutism.” In this case, Trump decided to target his predecessor, Barack Obama, blaming #44 for not doing anything to stop the Russian attack, which, until the other day, Trump insisted was nothing but a hoax.
It’s not the first time Trump went there. Back in June, Trump tweeted a series of three blurts about Obama’s reaction to the Russian attack. Which was a hoax. Go ahead and try to make sense of that one.
He did it again on Monday.
Obama was President up to, and beyond, the 2016 Election. So why didn’t he do something about Russian meddling?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2018
The addled, worm-infested brain of a mad man. Right there. How do we know he’s wrong? As the legendary sportscaster Warner Wolf used to say, Let’s go to the video tape. A simple perusal of, you know, the internet tells us that Trump’s chocolate cake is rapidly sliding off his fork.
Firstly, let’s get this out of the way. Trump himself has done nothing. In fact, he’s done less than nothing. He’s literally reversed a series of retaliatory measures designed to punish Russia for the attack. Among other things, he’s refusing to implement bipartisan sanctions passed by Congress with nearly zero opposition — sanctions that he himself signed into law, clearly because he had no choice. Later, he quietly ordered his beleaguered and understaffed State Department to balk. So far, Trump hasn’t implemented the sanctions.
Okay, so what did Obama do or not do?
Back in June, The Washington Post published a bombshell report about how the intelligence community and the Obama White House dealt with the attack amid the harrowing events of the most unpredictable presidential campaign in modern history. Included in the article was a quote from an unnamed former Obama official who said the 44th president “choked” in the face of the attack. Anyone who remembers the incendiary climate of the campaign has to give Obama a bit of latitude for not turning the attack into a political psycho-bomb, with Trump and his legion of Pepe-cultists accusing the president, not to mention his former secretary of state, of trying to rig the election against the screechy reality-show host.
When the intelligence community’s assessment was delivered to Obama, the president did not, under any circumstances, choke. In order to stave off the appearance of a political attack by Obama against Trump, the White House attempted to rally the cooperation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan to issue a joint statement. The Republicans flat out refused. Nevertheless, it was a smart move by Obama. Beyond a bipartisan response, there weren’t any other options beyond taking covert action, which Obama proceeded to do.
Despite the possibility of the Russian attack becoming another politically destabilizing factor in the election on top of the impact of the attacks themselves, Obama went public with the news in early October, 2016, months after the story initially broke but hadn’t been officially confirmed. Of course we might not remember that members of the Obama administration, namely director of national intelligence James Clapper and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, told us about the Russian attack on Oct. 7, 2016, because it was the same day as the pussy-grabbing “Access Hollywood” tape was dropped in the press, obliterating everything.
Later, after the election, we learned that Obama and his team had devised a series of retaliatory measures, including further sanctions and the planned deployment of cyberweapons — digital “bombs” planted inside Russian infrastructure to be detonated if the attack worsened. Obama also booted the Russians from a pair of “spy nest” compounds in New York and Maryland. Obama further pledged we would strike back “at a time and place of our choosing.”
Trump, it turns out, was tasked with activating the cyberweapons. It’s a safe bet he hasn’t. Likewise, there won’t be any “strike back” any time soon.
By the way, there may have been additional actions taken by Obama and his national security team that could’ve easily fallen into classified territory, meaning it’d be against the law to reveal the full scope of how the previous administration responded to the attack. Trump would know, but anyone without a security clearance is totally in the dark about any would-be top secret counterattacks. (Anyone, that is, other than the 130 Trump staffers in the West Wing who still don’t have permanent security clearances.)
Incidentally, around the same time the Post news broke, Trump appeared on his favorite TV show, “Fox & Friends,” where he said this about Russia, “Well, I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election and he did nothing about it. . . . In other words, if he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it?”
More importantly, per his “Fox & Friends” remarks, Trump claims to have just now heard about Obama’s response to the Russian attack, even though, to repeat, Obama officials spoke publicly about it in October, 2016. And surely Trump heard about Obama’s plan for retaliation before June because, 1) Trump confoundingly returned the Maryland and New York spy compounds to the Russians without explanation, and 2) the Post reported that Trump is tasked with deploying Obama’s cyberweapons against Russia but hasn’t done so, as far as we know. So not only did Obama do something about it, but Trump literally erased, now, all three of those retaliatory measures while totally failing to explain his reasoning or his deeply confused, awkward and mendacious posture on the whole thing.
Finally, I’ve written about this metaphor before, but it bears repeating today. Imagine there’s a massive building on fire. Two fire companies are ordered to put out the blaze. One fire company shows up first but ultimately fails to put out the fire and is pulled from the scene. The second company shows up, but instead of battling the fire, it doesn’t even bother to do a damn thing and instead sits on the curb across the street denying the fire is even happening — that it’s a hoax inexplicably orchestrated by the first company. Later the second company blames the first company for not doing anything about the fire, which it still claims never existed.
That’s the insanity of this story. That’s the insanity of Donald Trump. That’s the collective delusion and ignorance of his base. That’s the complete disconnect from reality that ought to be reason No. 1 for Trump’s conviction and swift removal from office.