Donald Trump finds himself embroiled in one of the most serious scandals of his entire presidency now that it’s been revealed that Vladimir Putin’s expansionist, cryptocriminal Russia has been placing bounties on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan, payable to the Taliban.
Trump failed to reveal this information to the American people and more importantly failed to take any action in the face of such naked Russian aggression. The man whose entire political shtick is pretending to be a “tough guy” has failed his most basic responsibilities as commander-in-chief yet again.
According to The Associated Press, White House officials were aware of the classified bounty intelligence in 2019. Former National Security Advisor John Bolton has claimed that he informed the president of the report in March of that year. The White House is ridiculously insisting that Trump was never personally briefed on the Russian actions and that he still has not been briefed. They’re claiming blanket ignorance.
The suggestion that the intelligence agencies wouldn’t brief the president on an issue as serious as Russian operatives paying to have American soldiers killed is ludicrous at face value. It flies in the face of not only common sense but the word of a U.S. official who says the bounty intelligence was included in the President’s Daily Briefing this past spring. Former intelligence officials who spoke to CNN dismissed the president’s denial as “absurd,” “ridiculous,” and “inconceivable.”
The challenging wrinkle for the administration here is that Trump infamously rarely reads in general and barely if ever reads his PDBs specifically. At this point, the White House really only has three options. Ether they can claim the president didn’t read the briefing with the Russia intelligence in it, admitting that he is failing his most basic duties as president in the process, they can admit that he did read it and as such was aware of the bounties, or they can claim that he did read the PDB but that the information wasn’t in his PDB. Any one of these strategies could prove to be a disaster as the true story emerges. Their lies won’t stand up to scrutiny.
In the meantime, Trump’s cadre of paid liars is scrambling to do damage control. Today, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany fielded questions about Russian Bountygate and displayed the remarkable lack of candor that has come to define her tenure.
“The president does read and he also consumes intelligence verbally,” McEnany claimed with a straight face. “This president I’ll tell you is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face.”
“You have Ambassador O’Brien who sees him in person twice a day, who sometimes takes the upwards of half a dozen calls with this president. He’s constantly being informed and briefed on intelligence matters. Um, but I’m not going to allow The New York Times to dictate when we give Top Secret information and don’t give Top Secret information. That’s an untenable proposition,” added McEnany.
One struggles to imagine who at this point honestly believes that Trump is well-informed, let alone “the most informed.” The man is incapable of discussing domestic or foreign policy with any kind of nuance and relies on broad, almost always incorrect sweeping statements when discussing geopolitics. He is uniquely unsuited to be president and every day he remains in office American lives are put at stake. Come November, he must be voted out.
Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany: "This President is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face." pic.twitter.com/VXgCYbXvIl
— The Hill (@thehill) June 30, 2020
"The president does read," press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says. "The president is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face."
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 30, 2020
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.