Top U.S. officials tell the world to ignore Trump’s tweets
The Washington Post
By Michael Birnbaum and Griff Witte
Image courtesy of Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images
Amid global anxiety about President Trump’s approach to global affairs, U.S. officials had a message to a gathering of Europe’s foreign policy elite this weekend: pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.
U.S. lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — and top national security officials in the Trump administration offered the same advice publicly and privately, often clashing with Trump’s Twitter stream: the United States remains staunchly committed to its European allies, is furious with the Kremlin about election interference and isn’t contemplating a preemptive strike on North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
But Trump himself engaged in a running counterpoint to the message, taking aim on social media at his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, because he “forgot” on Saturday to tell the Munich Security Conference that the results of the 2016 weren’t affected by Russian interference, a conclusion that is not supported by U.S. intelligence agencies. They say they will likely never be able to determine whether the Russian involvement swung the election toward Trump.
The determination to ignore Trump’s foreign-policy tweets has been bipartisan.
The question of whom they should believe — the president or his advisers — has befuddled European officials. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confessed Saturday that he didn’t know where to look to understand America.
“Is it deeds? Is it words? Is it tweets?” he asked. He said he was not sure whether he could recognize the United States.
Trump administration assault on bipartisan immigration plan ensured its demise
The Washington Post
By David Nakamura and Mike DeBonis
As much of the country was gripped Wednesday by horrific images from the mass shooting at a Florida high school, two dozen senior Trump administration officials worked frantically into the night to thwart what they considered a different national security threat.
The looming danger on the minds of the officials was a piece of legislation scheduled for a vote the next day in the Senate. It was designed to spare hundreds of thousands of young immigrants known as “dreamers” from deportation — but to the men and women huddled in a makeshift war room in a Department of Homeland Security facility, the measure would blow open U.S. borders to lawless intruders.
“We’re going to bury it,” one senior administration official told a reporter about 10:30 that evening.
The assault was relentless — a flurry of attacks on the bill from DHS officials and the Justice Department, and a veto threat from the White House — and hours later, the measure died on the Senate floor.
“He ended the program,” the Democratic Senate aide said of Trump. “He’s the one who repeatedly said no to bipartisan efforts to fix it.”
America Is Under Attack and the President Doesn’t Care
By David Frum
Image courtesy of Leah Millis / Reuters
As the rest of America mourns the victims of the Parkland, Florida, massacre, President Trump took to Twitter.
Not for him the rituals of grief. He is too consumed by rage and resentment. He interrupted his holidaying schedule at Mar-a-Lago only briefly, for a visit to a hospital where some of the shooting victims were treated. He posed afterward for a grinning thumbs-up photo op. Pain at another’s heartbreak—that emotion is for losers, apparently.
Having failed at one presidential duty, to speak for the nation at times of national tragedy, Trump resumed shirking an even more supreme task: defending the nation against foreign attack.
Trump continues to insist that he and his campaign team did not collude with Russia in the 2016 election. We know that they were ready and eager to collude—that’s on the public record. (“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”) The public does not yet know whether the collision actually occurred, and if so, in what form and to what extent. But in front of our very eyes we can observe that they are leaving the door open to Russian intervention on their behalf in the next election. You might call it collusion in advance—a dereliction of duty as grave as any since President Buchanan looked the other way as Southern state governments pillaged federal arsenals on the eve of the Civil War.
Mr. Trump to the ‘dreamers’: Drop dead.
The Washington Post
Opinion by the Editorial Board
Image courtesy of John Moore/Getty Images
President Trump has often spoken and tweeted of the soft spot in his “great heart” for “dreamers,” the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to this country as children. This supposed concern has now been revealed as a con.
Offered bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would have protected 1.8 million dreamers from deportation, in return for a down payment on the $25 billion wall Mr. Trump assured voters that Mexico would finance, the president showed his cards. The deal was a “total catastrophe,” the president said, punctuating a day in which the White House mustered all its political firepower in an effort to bury the last best chance to protect an absolutely blameless cohort of young people, raised and educated as Americans.
Despite the withering scorn heaped on the bipartisan plan by Mr. Trump, with a hearty second by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), eight Republican senators backed it, giving it a total of 54 votes — six shy of the 60 required for passage. Had Mr. Trump stayed silent, or suggested he could accept a modified version, the bill may very well have passed. But he turns out to be far less interested helping the dreamers — helping anyone, really — than in maintaining his anti-immigrant political base.
If the administration is successful, as many legal experts expect, the lives, hopes and futures of nearly 2 million young immigrants will be upended. They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his “great heart.”
After the Parkland shooting, pro-Russian bots are pushing false-flag allegations again
The Washington Post
By Anne Applebaum
Image courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images
For most Americans, the Parkland shooting was a terrible tragedy. But for social media accounts that promote the interests of Russia in the United States, it was a fantastic opportunity.
On the morning after the tragedy, the Russia-linked accounts were commenting fiercely, pushing the “crazy lone killer” explanation for the shooting and mocking advocates of gun control. According to Hamilton 68, a tracker website created by the German Marshall Fund, a lot of them linked to photos of guns and ammunition on the Instagram account of the suspected killer, plus a screenshot of a Google search for “Allahu akbar.” Others linked to a fact-checking website that debunked some statistics about gun crime. By Friday morning, some of the same accounts were also pushing something slightly different: the hashtag #falseflag. That’s a reference to the conspiracy theory, already widespread 48 hours later, that the shooting never happened, that the attack is a “false flag” operation staged by the U.S. government as a prelude to the seizure of guns.
Despite what is now overwhelming evidence of Russian involvement in the last U.S. presidential election, no one at the highest level of the U.S. government has made a significant commitment to prevent Russian involvement in the next election, or the next debate, or the next national argument, either.
Trump’s Furious Tweetstorm Backfires
By David A. Graham
Image courtesy of Eric Thayer / Reuters
Donald Trump didn’t have any control over the decision by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to mount self-proclaimed “information warfare against the United States of America.” As the indictment released on Friday stated, the effort began in 2014, long before he was a declared candidate—much less a serious one—for office.
But by refusing to take information warfare seriously — in an attempt to distance himself from it and any questions it might raise about the legitimacy of his election — the president has paradoxically made the story about himself again and again.