Incompetence (Paging Mr. Trump)

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Carter Page in Moscow, Russia, 12 July 2016.  (Photo: Reuters)

There are days when the primary argument against the idea we really are witnessing this debacle is, really, it just seems impossible that anyone could possibly be so bad at this. It seems even more impossible that the Trump administration should be inflicting so many wounds against itself. To wit, the lede from Reuters seems, by comparison, nearly harmless:

President Donald Trump sought to insert himself into congressional investigations on Russia on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to hear from one of his former advisers, Carter Page, to counter testimony by directors of the FBI and CIA.

Well, okay, we are discussing Carter Page, which is never quite as harmless as it ought to seem.

For instance, the lede and some detail from Roll Call:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Democrats of resisting testimony from Carter Page, his former campaign adviser, because he “blows away” allegations they have made.

In two tweets, the president went on to say that this alleged change of heart by Democratic members comes because they have concluded Page “blows away their … case against him.”

Trump, referring to the FBI director he fired and the Obama administration’s last CIA director, wrote that his former adviser “wants to clear his name by showing “the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan…”

A’ight, so, are we ready for the tricky part? Is there always a tricky part? Never mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Steve Benen:

Perhaps the most salient detail is Trump’s insistence that Carter Page has information that “blows away” the Democrats’ “case against him” in the Russia scandal. This, of course, leads to an awkward question: how exactly would the president know that?

A year ago, during the presidential campaign, Trump personally singled out Page, by name, as one of only a handful of people who were advising him on matters of foreign policy. That became highly problematic: the FBI has investigated Page as a possible agent of Russia.

The more controversial Page became, the more eager Team Trump became to put distance between Page and the president. Sean Spicer told reporters during the transition period, for example, “Carter Page is an individual whom [Trump] does not know.” The Washington Post added this morning people close to the president have insisted that Trump and Page “never met.”

And yet, there was the president this morning, not only defending Page, but making the case that Page has important, exculpatory information.

On top of accusing former CIA and FBI directors of perjury, something that would have been extraordinary presidential behavior before the Trump administration, and ignoring the obvious point that, as Roll Call reported, the committee has, in the words of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA28), “agreed that the pace of those interviews will be dictated by the needs of the investigation and not the preferences of outside parties”, the president apparently cannot manage to maintain any sort of distance ‘twixt himself and controversial actors he supposedly has so little to do with.

Some days it really does seem like Donald Trump would very much appreciate it if we would just get on with expelling him from office.


Image note: Carter Page in Moscow, Russia, 12 July 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “Trump defends Carter Page, whom he is not supposed to know”. msnbc. 31 May 2017.

Bennett, John T. “Trump Says Democrats No Longer Want Carter Page’s Testimony”. Roll Call. 31 May 2017.

Chicau, Doina. “Trump blasts Russia probe, touts ex-adviser Page over FBI, CIA”. Reuters. 31 May 2017.

Lizza, Ryan. “Trump’s ‘Good Job’ Call to Roger Stone”. The New Yorker. 31 May 2017.


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