In a span of one week, June 21-26, there were 2 stories that broke, involving (who else?) President Trump. And like most news pertaining to the Trump administration, both stories are tied to a central question: Is Donald J. Trump intellectually, emotionally and morally fit to represent the national security interests of the United States?
The first story involved John Bolton's interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz, on Sunday, June 21. Bolton, Trump's former National Security Advisor, resigned from the Trump administration Sept 10, 2019 because Trump wanted to invite the Taliban to Camp David on 9/11/2019. In the interview, Bolton reiterated some of the things in his just released book, "The Room Where It Happen." A few of the main issues that stood out:
Jared Kushner was second only to Trump in the White House hierarchy.
In negotiations with Kim Sung Un of North Korea, Trump gave away too much.
Bolton also talked about Vladimir Putin who only knows two ways to deal with people; humiliate them or dominate them.
Putin plays Trump like a fiddle.
There were also a number of other issues that stood out in the interview. One was that Trump could not distinguish between the U.S. interests and his own personnel interests. In fact it was almost as if his interests superseded the interests of the United States. The second thing was that Trump was mainly concerned with props, photo-ops and how things appear to his base. He is not interested in doing the hard routine work to protect our country and to make things better for the United States.
Finally, Trump paid scant attention to the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB). A U.S. president should be reading the PDB or at least the main parts of the PDB every day. Bolton said that Trump only looked at the PDB's once to two times a week. Even then, you had to break it down for him, drawing pictures and diagrams to try to get the concept across.
When it came to foreign policy issues, Trump got easily bored but if you started to talk about the re-election, he became laser-focused. And anytime a negative narrative came up about Putin, he got upset.
The second story that broke Friday, June 26, from the New York Times concerns a Russian plot to pay Taliban insurgents bounty to murder U.S. and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. Subsequent reporting by CNN and the Washington Post adds additional evidence to collaborate this story. Reporting that came out last week, said that Rahmatullah Azizi, an Afghan drug dealer, acted as the go between a Russian military unit providing the money and the Taliban insurgents that murdered US soldiers. The narrative coming out of the White House has doubled down on the fact that Trump was not briefed on this because there wasn't sufficient consensus on this story. And of course, there's always the excuse that Trump doesn't pay attention to the PDB's and doesn't like to hear any bad news about Russia.
Taking that at face value and giving the Trump White House the benefit of the doubt about the president not knowing about this, this one simple fact remains. The president now knows, and as more evidence comes in by the day, the truth is, Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to murder U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Instead of doubling down to verify this, Trump dismisses it as a "hoax."
Once again, he refuses to confront Vladimir Putin.
In the summer of 2018 in Helsinki when the issue of Russian interference in our 2016 election came up, Trump sided with Putin who denied Russia had any involvement in that election. This went totally against all 17 agencies of our intelligence community who said Russia did interfere in the election. Another incident in Trump siding with Putin was the House Impeachment trial last year. In that trial, Trump was accused of withholding military weapons to Ukraine contingent upon Ukraine going a political errand for Trump. Specifically, Trump wanted Ukraine president Zelensky to launch an investigation into Joe Biden. This would have been to the determent of U.S. and Ukraine national security interests and to the benefit of Russia.
In the past three months, Trump has lobbied the G-7 group to re-admit Russia. He has also withdrawn 10,000 troops from NATO, weakening that alliance. At every step of his administration, when it comes down to either strengthening our allies and U.S. security or standing with Putin, Trump sides with Putin. The question we now find before us is this. Will Trump continue this policy of standing with Putin, or will he stand up for our brave soldiers in Afghanistan?
Maybe the bigger question is this. When will the American public have had enough?
Robert K. Bomberger writes from Lower Paxton Twp. Originally published by The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.