Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Merely An Infant. Probably.

In a pair of tweets, Donald Trump claims "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining...to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."

As Chris Cillizza puts it, "riiiiiight."  There is an explanation far more likely for the disclosure to the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the USA by Trump of highly classified information. With the help of a slightly profane December, 2015 comment by Mark Cuban (first paragraph below) about Trump, Steve M. explains

He’s like that guy who walks into the bar, and will say whatever it’ll take to get laid. Only in this case he’s not trying to fuck some girl. He’s trying to fuck the country,” he said to applause and laughter.

If I'm right, this was the same impulse in a non-sexual, non-electoral way: 

In Trump's mind, he was putting the moves on the Russians, and he knew something that would really impress them.

And this gets back to another preposterous thing about Trump: He's desperate to impress everyone, but his knowledge base is so deficient that he has no idea what's actually impressive. He gets amazing inside intelligence? Well, of course he does -- he's the president of the United States! But he seriously believes that top Russian officials won't realize that he's briefed on such details unless he tells them.

As pointed out by SM, that fits the President's modus operandi. As he does not point out, it also would be consistent with the law of parsimony.  Still, consider what Cillizza suggested as one (of three) possibilities:

Democrats have insisted for months that there are simply too many connections between Trumpworld and the Russians for moments like this to be coincidences. As in, where there's smoke and smoke and smoke and smoke, there has to be fire.

"As Yogi Berra said, 'It's too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence,'" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview in Washington Monday night. Later, she added: "Every day I ask the question: What do the Russians have on Donald Trump? He's always catering to them."

That more radical, and extraordinarily serious, charge would have the President of the United States giving the middle finger to the nation for which he has contempt. (None dare call it "treason," or at least not I, for it is a term of art.)  Yet, consider that

When President Trump met with top Russian officials in the Oval Office on Wednesday, White House officials barred reporters from witnessing the moment. They apparently preferred to block coverage of the awkwardly timed visit as questions swirled about whether the president had dismissed his F.B.I. director in part to squelch the investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Moscow.

But the Russians, who have a largely state-run media, brought their own press contingent in the form of an official photographer. They quickly filled the vacuum with their own pictures of the meeting with Mr. Trump, Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the United States.

The White House may have been strongly motivated to discourage coverage of  this lovely encounter, one in which plot details are so critical that The Washington Post assured its readers it "is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities."

In the absence of further details, Steve M.'s argument, requiring the fewest assumptions, must be the default theory. However, it does seem there may have been method to the madness of barring American media from what now appears to have been an extraordinary meeting.

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