Trump Attempts Absurd Walk Back Of Post-Summit Comments

One day after an embarrassing performance at the Helsinki Summit, President Trump an absurd, completely unbelieve walk back of things the entire world heard him say loud and clear.

Just over twenty-four hours after a post-summit press conference in Helsinki where he essentially defended Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia against charges of interference in the 2016 Presidential election, President Trump attempted to walk back those comments with a scripted statement that is quite simply too absurd to be believed:

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Tuesday that he had misspoken a day earlier in Helsinki, Finland, when he appeared to take the word of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia over the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies on Russian election meddling in 2016. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he “accepts” those findings.

Mr. Trump said the misunderstanding arose from his use of a “double negative.”

“The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative,” he said. “So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself. I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.”

Mr. Trump had been criticized even by many in his own party for rejecting the assessments of American intelligence and law enforcement. In walking back those remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he reviewed the transcript from the joint news conference on Monday and he “realized that there is a need for clarification.”

Mr. Trump emerged from talks with Mr. Putin on Monday and publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and said the Russian president was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial.” Mr. Trump also said that he saw no reason why Russia would have been behind the election hacking.

“My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said, “In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.'”

The president also said, “I have full faith in our intelligence agencies.” And he pledged his administration would aggressively try to prevent Russian efforts to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections in November.

As Mr. Trump said he had “full faith” in his intelligence agencies, the lights went out and he looked around, confused. “Must be the intelligence agencies,” he joked.

The president spoke ahead of a White House meeting with Republican members of Congress about taxes. Mr. Trump, who has referred to himself as a “very stable genius,” rarely corrects what he says and more often blames the news media for making up “fake news.”

Mr. Trump’s comments in Helsinki came just a few days after the special counsel investigating the election interference announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials for their roles in hacking the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign. And on Monday, the Justice Department charged a Russian woman for operating as a foreign agent and accused her of working with Americans in a Russian effort to influence American politics.

Democrats and many Republicans have criticized Mr. Trump for what has been described as his unprecedented deference to the Russian president during a joint news conference on Monday after the two leaders met alone for two hours.

More from The Washington Post:

Seeking to quell mounting criticism after the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump on Tuesday said he accepts the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.

But Trump also floated without evidence the possibility that other actors may have been involved, a conclusion that is not backed up by the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there,” Trump said, reading mostly off a sheet of paper, before a meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House.

“There was no collusion at all,” he added, dismissing the notion that his campaign coordinated with Moscow in 2016.

Trump also said he misspoke at the joint news conference with Putin on Monday and that he meant to say he didn’t have any reason to doubt Russia interfered in the election.

“The sentence should have been, ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.’ Sort of a double negative,” Trump told reporters. “So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.”

Trump on Tuesday did not address, however, his assertion at Monday’s news conference that “I have confidence in both parties” in response to a question about whether he believed Putin’s denial or the intelligence committee’s conclusion about Russia’s interference in the election.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) immediately seized on Trump’s remarks, saying the president “tried to squirm away from what he said yesterday.”

“It’s twenty-four hours too late, and in the wrong place,” Schumer said in a tweet.

Trump’s remarks followed a morning tweet in which he blamed the media for negative coverage of Monday’s news conference and said that his meeting with Putin had gone “even better” than a meeting with NATO allies the week before.

“While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia,” Trump wrote, referring to his efforts to increase defense spending by U.S. allies. “Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!”

Here are Trump’s tweets from this morning, which were sent prior to the statement he made this afternoon:

To say that the President’s attempt to walk back his comments at yesterday’s press conference amount to little more than an absurd and laughable attempt at damage control for a performance that was so bad that even the people at Fox News Channel could barely find a way to defend is an understatement. The record of what the President said during that hour-long news conference is there for everyone to see, and was witnessed around the world, walking it back now is quite simply too little too late. Not only did the world hear what he said loud and clear, but he repeated it in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that aired last night and the message he sent out this morning on Twitter make it clear that he was still standing by what he said as of this morning. It wasn’t until this afternoon after his National Security Council had apparently spent the morning meeting in an effort to come up with something he could say that would limit the damage he has done to American national interests and our alliances in Europe. The result was a prepared statement that the President read from the Cabinet room in what looked for all the world like a hostage video rather than a genuine statement on his part.

Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the explanation that the President tried to offer was the idea that he meant to say yesterday that he didn’t see any reason why it would not be Russia who interfered in the election. Even as he did that, though, the President could not help but add in the comment that it also could have been others who responsible for the hacking of Democratic computer systems and to state, yet again without evidence, that we all know that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian officials. If there were the slightest possibility that the President had misspoken at the press conference yesterday, then this is something that could have easily been almost immediately corrected either via a White House press release or via Twitter. Instead, it wasn’t until Trump read the statement that was prepared for him that we first heard this absurd idea that he meant to say “would not” instead of “‘would,” an explanation that is also undercut by everything else he said about the allegations regarding Russian interference at the press conference. In other words, only someone who is either completely gullible or incredibly stupid would buy the explanation that the President tried to give today, What he said on Monday evening in Helsinki was clear enough, and made clear that he believed the denials of a former KGB agent over the word of all of his intelligence agencies and two Congressional Committees that have concluded that Russia did in fact attempt to interfere with the Presidential election in 2016.

The President’s attempt to say something he didn’t say in Helsinki is, of course, reminiscent of other times in the past when he has been forced to try to walk back comments he made that proved to be controversial. Perhaps the most memorable of those instances came just under a year ago in the wake of the racist march and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted in the death of one woman at the hands of one of the white supremacist protesters.  In the immediate aftermath of that tragedy, Trump blamed ‘both sides’ for the violence and refused to directly condemn groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, which was present at the rally, or the broader so-called alt-right movement whose supporters made up the vast majority of the participants. The outrage over these comments was sufficiently broad, even from fellow Republicans in Washington, that the White House was compelled to have Trump deliver a follow-up comment the following Monday that was more measured and emphatic than what he had said before. Whatever damage had been repaired by that statement, though, was short-lived, though, because less than twenty-four hours later when Trump repeated his ‘both sides’ argument in a press conference at Trump Tower in New York. As if that were not enough, Trump doubled-down on the “both sides” argument a month later in a statement that only served to reopen the wounds of the tragedy that had occurred a month before.

Given the fact that what Trump said yesterday in Helsinki is basically the same thing he has been saying for the better part of a year in his effort to undermine the Russia investigation, it seems obvious that it will only be a matter of time before he walks back what he said today and returns to the claim that the entire Russia investigation is “Fake News.” Whether it comes via a Tweet or in another statement to the press, it will inevitably come because it is clear that his statement in Helsinki is an accurate reflection of what he actually believes about the investigation and about the fact that Russia tried, and in some sense of the word succeeded, to influence the 2016 Presidential election. We saw the real Donald Trump in Helsinki yesterday, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. No prepared statement is going to change who he really is.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, Russia, Russia Investigation, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Has Sarah Huckabee Sanders crawled out of the bunker yet to issue a statement?

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  2. Yank says:

    Give him 24 hours, Trump will reverse his stance. This “walk back” gives his supporters cover, but then he will leave them out to try when he gets on twitter tomorrow morning. Honestly, this is the one aspect of Trump that I like. His ability to make his supporters look like gutless hacks.

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  3. Kylopod says:
  4. Mark Ivey says:

    I can hear Barry Goldwater and William F Buckley spinning in their graves…

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  5. An Interested Party says:

    I wonder how many of his supporters, if pumped full of truth serum, would admit how much of an embarrassment their joke of a hero is…as bad as George W. Bush was at his worst, even he wasn’t as inane of a train wreck as this idiot is…

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    In other words, only someone who is either completely gullible or incredibly stupid would buy the explanation that the President tried to give today.

    Always the same question with Republicans. Are they dumb enough to believe what they said, or just think we are?

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  7. CSK says:

    @Yank:

    Give the Trumpkins 24 hours, and they’ll have forgotten this happened, or rationalized it away. Or simply claimed that it’s fake news, as they’re already doing, despite the fact that they can watch and listen to Trump uttering this “retraction.”

    Give Trump 24 hours to fume and stew over what his aides made him do today, and he’ll pull a Charlottesville.

    It’s not just that Trump is a vulgar, stupid, ill-informed buffoon; it’s that he’s a psychopath with a case of arrested development.

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  8. Kathy says:

    What is Mangolini’s explanation for the open collusion between him and Putin going on right now?

    The Grand Moron is weakening America’s position in the world, strengthening Russia’s, losing direct influence on other countries, losing allied-mediated influence in even more countries, and above all destroying any good will towards America in most of the world. Unless this is what the GOP wants as well, how do they keep supporting this idiot?

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  9. Joe says:

    I just wonder who got Trump in what room just to get him to make this statement. Were resignations threatened?

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Yank:

    Honestly, this is the one aspect of Trump that I like. His ability to make his supporters look like gutless hacks.

    I know! As they’re typing some idiotic defense he’s walking back the point they’re trying to defend. It’s entertaining in a ‘dumb-dog-videos’ sort of way.

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  11. PJ says:

    @Joe:

    I just wonder who got Trump in what room just to get him to make this statement. Were resignations threatened?

    I think someone showed Trump the real dossier about the Kennedy assassination. Or rather, they drew a one page cartoon using crayons explaining who really killed Kennedy and told him that he probably should retract certain statements…

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  12. Gustopher says:

    @An Interested Party: So far, Trump has not caused the deaths of 100,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqis, nor embroiled the US into a conflict that will last at least two decades.

    He is not on George W. Bush’s level.

    I think George W. Bush likely acted in good faith, believing he was serving America’s interests, but he was a disaster of a President on a scale that we have not seen from Trump… yet.

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  13. Mister Bluster says:

    dumb dogs

    all they do is bark and sh!t…

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  14. CSK says:

    Trump quote: “…I think that clarifies things pretty good.” Hey, great usage from a guy who’s always bragging about his Ivy League education.

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  15. drj says:

    @Gustopher:

    While you’re absolutely right in terms of human suffering, I am pretty sure that Trump has already caused way more damage from an international relations perspective.

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher:
    True enough. Oddly, although I despise Trump, I don’t really hate W. W struck me as a guy whose family connections allowed him to get in way over his head. C+ Augustus always seemed like the perfect description. Doesn’t change the awfulness of what he did, or the decades it will take for the Middle East to recover, if ever. Another case of Dunning Kruger, wanted to do what’s right, but took the word of evil people, Cheney and the neocons and Prince Bandar, for what that was.

    On the other hand, Trump’s only had 18 months, give him time. Well, actually don’t, if there’s a way.

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  17. An Interested Party says:

    @Gustopher: I agree with that…but I was comparing their intellects, their respective intelligences…I continue to believe that the only saving grace about Trump is that he is a bumbling idiot…that is the one check on any damage he might do…certainly much more of a check than his Republican enablers…

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  18. Mikey says:

    Mr. Trump said the misunderstanding arose from his use of a “double negative.”

    “The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative,” he said.

    Hahahahahaha…what fatuous bullshit! I wouldn’t accept a ridiculous excuse like that from my teenaged son. In fact, I’d punish him twice–once for the original deed, and again for trying to worm his way out of it with a stupid lie.

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  19. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Another case of Dunning Kruger, wanted to do what’s right, but took the word of evil people, Cheney and the neocons and Prince Bandar, for what that was.

    True. But you also need to take the context of the times into account. The 9/11 attacks shook the world’s psyche, but America’s in particular. There was, to be blunt, more than a bit of sustained hysteria in the air.

    It was still a bonehead move.

    Trump seems rather attracted to military solutions, and in particular to extreme and even unthinkable ones. He’s asked why he can’t just invade Venezuela, and why he can’t use nukes in Syria.

    In addition he has shown he can inflame any situation without regards of the consequences, so long as it’s pleasing to his base (see “little rocket man”).

    So he may blunder into a war someday, or launch one to shore up his base. Many of his advisers, like Bolton, would like nothing better than an Iraq-style invasion of Iran.

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: Somebody’s already out with a photo shopped red ball cap reading “DON’T MAKE AMERICA NOT GREAT AGAIN”.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    True. But you also need to take the context of the times into account. The 9/11 attacks shook the world’s psyche, but America’s in particular. There was, to be blunt, more than a bit of sustained hysteria in the air.

    Indeed. And the PNAC guys, Cheney and the neocons, took advantage of it to invade Iraq, although we knew it had nothing to do with 9-11.

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  22. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    Indeed. And the PNAC guys, Cheney and the neocons, took advantage of it to invade Iraq, although we knew it had nothing to do with 9-11.

    Remember the argument about playing defense in the one-yard line? The notion was to take out terrorist threats at the source, rather than let them develop.

    I’m not justifying it, but as a strategic doctrine it makes sense. The flaw was that Saddam had no intention of staging a major attack on the US, knowing full well he’d get his ass invaded if he did. It is worth stating Saddam acted rather stupidly in the whole matter as well.

    If Saddam had restarted manufacturing chemical weapons, and if he had been trying to acquire nukes or even radioactive materials, I can imagine how a functioning, organized state with a decent military force and a competent intelligence service, could have inflicted damage on the US which would make 9/11 pale in comparison.

    But by 2003 decades of sanctions, no-fly zones, and the occasional missile strikes, had taken a toll on Iraq. The state wasn’t functioning well, the military was a hollow shell, and who knows what its intelligence service was like by then (likely not swimming in excess oil revenue for training and operations), and was probably more worried about Iran than America.

    It is easy, though, in the right, or wrong, psychological climate, to get carried away by contemplating horrendous possibilities, and thus climb into the bandwagon of war; just to be safe. That’s how Bush got so much support.

    But I digress.

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  23. de stijl says:

    This isn’t “walking it back”, it’s gaslighting.

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  24. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    bragging about his Ivy League education

    Why won’t Trump reveal his GPA and release his transcript? 😉

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  25. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    Probably for the same reason that his marketing professor, William Kelley, once described Trump as “The dumbest goddamn student I ever had.”

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  26. Franklin says:

    He almost never apologizes or takes something back, and now I see why. He doesn’t actually know how to.

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  27. Kylopod says:

    You know, I used to describe Dick Morris as the Dyslexic Prophet, because his predictions were so bad that it often seemed like you could get a good sense of what was going to happen simply by listening to his predictions and assuming the exact reverse was going to occur. (For example–and I’m not remotely exaggerating about this–he predicted Romney would win the election with 325-213 EVs. Obama ended up winning it with 332-206 EVs–almost a perfect mirror image of Dick’s forecast.) I’m convinced his predictions come from God, only he thinks they’re coming from Dog.

    Well, now I have to tell you, Trump must be the Dyslexic Truth-teller. He has this compulsion to boldly declare the exact reverse of what everyone knows to be true. He calls himself a “very stable genius.” He insists there was “no collusion.” He says there’s a “red wave” coming. He’s repeatedly told reporters he’s the “least racist person you’ve ever met.”

    As I’ve said before, if he suddenly started insisting he had not killed Jimmy Hoffa, my immediate assumption would be that he had. Even if I’d had no reason to think so up to that point. Just the mere fact that he denies something is practically proof in itself that the charges are accurate.

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  28. Franklin says:

    Should I watch Hannity to see what he thinks about this? Or wait ’til Guarneri and TM01 regurgitate it for me?

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  29. Hal_10000 says:

    Trump’s demeanor while issuing that “correction” was like that of a celebrity caught spewing racial profanities or something. His heart wasn’t in it; he was reading from a statement put together by his team. It’s telling that he did this; he *rarely* walks anything back and his staff must have impressed him — momentarily at least — with how important this was. But by tomorrow morning, he’ll be back to “NO COLLUSION!” because he sees any attempt to deal with Russia’s interference as an attack on his legitimacy (although, TBF, a lot of the commentary does have the stated or unstated goal of unelecting him).

    But once again we see that standing with Trump is going to get you stabbed in the back. His supporters spent a day justifying his comments and proclaiming it to be the work of a genius. Now he jerked the rug out from under them and they’re scrambling to explain why it was all fake news, even though we all heard what he said. And then tomorrow they’ll be scrambling back to their positions about what a genius he is.

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  30. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08:

    W struck me as a guy whose family connections allowed him to get in way over his head. C+ Augustus always seemed like the perfect description.

    Gotta agree with you there. Every once in a while GW would pontificate to someone about how he was the “Decider”, that at his level it was all about making the hard decisions and having the gits to follow them through. This is the kind of stuff McKinsey spits out to CEOs they recognize as too stupid to understand the business but firmly enough entrenched they could turn the consulting cash spigot a few turns towards closed.

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  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey:

    I wouldn’t accept a ridiculous excuse like that from my teenaged son

    Honest to God this was my exact Reaction. Except that my son even as a 13-year-old would never say something so stupid. We would have to go back to when he was nine.

    The really sad and damaging thing about this is how pathetic and weak it makes Trump (and by transference, all Americans) look. It was just about the wimpiest most candy ass thing I can imagine anybody doing. It made him look like a rank amateur playing amongst professionals.

    Trump has always reminded me of that bully kid from a Christmas story. He terrorized the younger kids because the ones his age would hand him his ass on a platter. And our resident Trumpoids are a perfect corollary to the little weasley kid that rides in his coat tails. He follows his idols every move, because by proxy he’s beating someone up. But even the little kids think he’s a pathetic wannabe.

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  32. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Kylopod:
    And don’t forget he “has all the best words”

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  33. Bob@Youngstown says:

    OT, but RT reports: “Russian Defense Ministry is ready to implement the agreements on the international security, reached by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump during the Helsinki summit yesterday,” Ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Tuesday.

    What agreements????

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  34. Slugger says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: Bob, I don’t think this is off topic. While Trump was delivering word salad on camera, there is a question of what he gave away during the private meeting with Putin. If I were a US senator I’d be making noise about the advise and consent provisions in the Constitution.

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  35. Stormy Dragon says:

    The president also said, “I have full faith in our intelligence agencies.” And he pledged his administration would aggressively try to prevent Russian efforts to interfere in the upcoming midterm elections in November.

    As Mr. Trump said he had “full faith” in his intelligence agencies, the lights went out and he looked around, confused. “Must be the intelligence agencies,” he joked.

    I doubt they believed you anyways, but nothing sells your “I have full faith in our intelligence agencies” lie like immediately following with a joke based on the premise that you think they’re conspiring against you.

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  36. Jax says:

    No trolls reporting in yet? Hannity hasn’t released his trolling orders, apparently, he’s still putting Trump to bed and telling him what a good boy he is.

    I’m seeing an interesting uptick in “new” fake news sites on social media. Hook, line, sinker, they’re falling for it.

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  37. One American says:

    Have any of you been harmed in some way by this most traumatic press conference? Seek your safe spaces ! Just wait for the Trump effect, the truth will prevail. Be gone evil prior administrations. Cheers and Aloha!

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  38. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy:

    True. But you also need to take the context of the times into account. The 9/11 attacks shook the world’s psyche, but America’s in particular. There was, to be blunt, more than a bit of sustained hysteria in the air.

    I remember the time, and the hysteria. Our government is supposed to be stronger than just reacting to hysteria.

    Overthrowing Saddam Hussein was not — on the surface — the worst thing in the world that we could do. But, if we were going to do it, we should have prepared better. Doing it while half our military was bogged down in Afghanistan, and without a realistic plan for post-Saddam Iraq, was just dumb and reckless and arrogant. It was a half-assed attempt to impose our will on the world, combined with the belief that everyone would see just how genius it was and fall in line.

    It was the type of mistake that the Trump administration would make, but hasn’t yet made.

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  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @One American from Russia: Хорошо сказанный, Товарищ!

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Both Afghanistan and Iraq were wars done on the cheap. It was obvious before they started that we were not going to make the investment necessary to win.

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  41. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @One American:

    Have any of you been harmed in some way by this most traumatic press conference?

    That’s not even a good strawman.
    It’s not about harm. It’s about watching an incompetent man, who has not business holding the office, bow to the leader of another country.
    He’s weak, submissive, incompetent. And you support his treasonous actions.
    Which makes you a traitor to this country.

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  42. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Worse yet…Dennison plans to paint AF-1 red, white, and blue.
    He is as tacky as he is incompetent.

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  43. CSK says:

    @: Bob@Youngstown@ Slugger:

    Jeanne Shaheen has requested that Trump’s translator be subpoenaed to appear before Congress and tell them what Trump said. I agree.

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  44. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    watching an incompetent man

    Has there ever been a non-recession year when the deficit jumped $225B?
    I don’t think so.
    Welcome to Trumpistan…a banana republic run by an incompetent.

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  45. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:

    Jeanne Shaheen has requested that Trump’s translator be subpoenaed to appear before Congress

    Never, ever, going to happen.

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  46. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Joe:

    I just wonder who got Trump in what room just to get him to make this statement. Were resignations impeachments threatened?

    FTFY.

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  47. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @CSK:

    Trump quote: “…I think that clarifies things pretty good.”
    Hey, great usage from a guy who’s always bragging about his Ivy League education.

    Any stable genius knows that grammar is stated good.

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  48. James Pearce says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    What agreements????

    Jim Acosta is going to find out by shouting “What agreements?” as he’s dragged out of the press conference.

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  49. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I can dream, can’t I?

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  50. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I remember the time, and the hysteria. Our government is supposed to be stronger than just reacting to hysteria.

    That’s hard to do when the government’s playing it up.

    Absent 9/11, there’s no way Bush the younger would have ever had enough support to invade Iraq, even if the two are not related.

    That’s what Trump the Moron lacks right now.

    He also might not be interested in a war that cannot be won within one news cycle, and without a single casualty. But he’s delusional enough to believe such a war may exist.

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  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Translators quite often have very little memory of what has been said. They are so focused on giving timely and accurate translations that their brains retain very little.

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  52. CSK says:

    @<a href="#comment-2334303">Hal_10000:

    “And then tomorrow they’ll be scrambling back to their positions about what a genius he is.”

    No kidding. Breitbart has an article by John Nolte entitled “Helsinki Is One of Trump’s Finest Moments.”

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  53. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: You think trump thinks he can win a war in a single day? (a single day now being the avg duration of a news cycle) Hmmmm…. Maybe.

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  54. Timothy Watson says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: One report said extension of New START Treaty.

    That would be the same treaty which Obama had signed and the GOP said would undermine our security and allow the Russians to take over the world.

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  55. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Yeah, the fact Russia is bringing up START actually seems like an obvious reverse psychology ploy to get Trump to pull out of it. So obvious that it will likely work on Trump.

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  56. Stormy Dragon says:

    Oh, and Trump is apparently giving Montenegro to Putin:

    Trump calls out ‘very aggressive’ Montenegro in latest NATO jibe

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  57. al Ameda says:

    Mr. Trump said the misunderstanding arose from his use of a “double negative.”

    “The sentence should have been ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,’ sort of a double negative,” he said. “So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself. I have on numerous occasions noted our intelligence findings that Russians attempted to interfere in our elections.”

    Honestly, that’s the equivalent of: “The dog ate my prepared remarks.”

    He better hope that Putin does release the Trump tax returns.

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  58. al Ameda says:

    @al Ameda:
    oops … *does not release tax returns …

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  59. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Well, Trump is The Mouth That Roared.

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  60. Pylon says:

    I almost expected to hear “yeah, that’s the ticket” after Trump gave his “wouldn’t” explanation.

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  61. bookdragon says:

    What I don’t get is why anyone thinks saying “wouldn’t” makes this better. If he honestly saw no reason Russia wouldn’t be responsible for attacking us but still obsequiously kissed Putin’s butt, that strikes me as actually being much worse.

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  62. Kathy says:

    I’ve said a number of times Trump is like a dog, either at your feet or at your throat.

    I’d no idea he was such a poodle.

    I’m reminded, too, of an exchange in The Fountainhead:

    Dominique: You got Peter Keating where you wanted him—the leading architect of the country who’s now mud clinging to your galoshes.
    Elsworth: I’ve never liked your style of expression, but it’s always been accurate. I should have said: who’s now a soul wagging its tail. Your style is gentler.

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  63. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    I’ve said a number of times Trump is like a dog

    Well, given his ass-kiss’n to Putin, he must be of the Fake-Haired Russian Lap Dog variety….

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  64. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    Please. I love dogs.

    I think Churchill said of the Germans that they were either at one’s throat or at one’s feet.

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  65. Kylopod says:

    I’ve so far been avoiding the Bush vs. Trump discussion in this thread. I thought of writing something about it, then stopped myself, because it just felt like I was debating angels on the head of a pin.

    I’ve been among the first here to complain about retroactive praise toward Bush based on how good he supposedly looks in relative comparison to Trump. I hate the way people are constantly lowering the bar. Before they did this with Bush, they did it with Reagan. Ironically, during the Bush era that’s when we were starting to hear cries of “What happened to the Party of Reagan?”

    In fact a lot of what’s wrong with today’s GOP can be traced to Reagan: the rise of the religious right, the ardent anti-intellectualism, the winks and nods to racists, the corporate takeover of the party. While it’s true that Reagan did a lot of things that make him look like an extreme RINO today (on taxes, immigration, and gun control, among others), I am not as quick as some people here to give him “credit” for taking these positions, or to rhapsodize about how he would be “spinning in his grave” if he saw what happened to his party.

    And now it’s happening with Bush. We’re reduced to praising him for things that in previous times were considered a bare minimum, like his friendliness toward immigrants, or his having a basic grasp of policy. (And let’s remember that Bush was in fact often startlingly ignorant of policy, particularly foreign policy–but next to Trump he practically looks like a wonk.) I’m half-expecting that a decade or so down the line when President Ted Nugent is having people shot on the street, pundits will be crowing about the more civilized era of Trump.

    Previously, I’ve tried to push back against the knee-jerk characterization of Trump as the “worst president in history.” I argued that he was the most obviously unfit candidate ever to reach the White House, but he still had a way to go before achieving the level of damage of several past presidents, including Bush.

    That was then. My argument has become increasingly strained as I’ve watched him pull out of the Iran Deal, threaten NATO, and in general crap on alliances that have been built up over decades. As drj noted earlier in this thread, “While you’re absolutely right in terms of human suffering, I am pretty sure that Trump has already caused way more damage from an international relations perspective.” This might seem like mere politics to a lot of people at this point, which would hardly compare to the loss of thousands of lives. But it’s likely to have significant long-term damage that’s hard to measure right now.

    During Trump’s first year, most of the terrible things he was doing were reversible. By now it’s increasingly clear we have reached a point of no return. Even if Dems win back power by 2020, Trump has already created catastrophes that cannot be easily undone. And this is just the beginning.

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  66. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    I think Churchill said of the Germans that they were either at one’s throat or at one’s feet.

    I’ve never seen Churchill and Kathy together at the same time. Just saying…

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  67. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Please. I love dogs.

    So do I. I even had two poodles, Fuzz and Daisy, who were mother and daughter. Fuzz tried to be dominant, which was impossible given her tiny stature. So she was reduced, poor thing, to growling menacingly and sometimes biting the air aggressively. Sometimes I let her chase me around the house. so she’d feel better about herself. But she always wound up sweetly wagging her tail and rolling on her back for extensive petting.

    Trump, now, can easily intimidate Republicans, but does nothing to scare off Mueller or those opposed to him. And in the end he winds up docilely on his back, throat exposed, at Putin’s feet.

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  68. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve never seen Churchill and Kathy together at the same time. Just saying…

    A bit before my time.

    But I did see “Darkest Hour.”

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  69. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    “…docilely on his back, throat exposed, at Putin’s feet.”

    Dear God, what a truly macabre image.

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  70. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Even if Dems win back power by 2020, Trump has already created catastrophes that cannot be easily undone. And this is just the beginning.

    Agreed. Also that he’s the most unfit candidate ever (and not just for the job he allegedly does now).

    By menas of example of the damage he’s done, withdrawing from the TPP left America in a worse trade position over much of Asia. This will have costs on exports, more expensive imports, and overall a poorer economy, as effects from the modified TPP, which cut out much os that the US wanted in, begin to take place.

    Then there’s NATO, the WTO, NAFTA, and plenty other trade deals and bad treatment of current allies.

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  71. wr says:

    @Kathy: Thanks for the reminder of just what a terrible writer Ayn Rand was! I think her prose might be worse than her philosophy… although it’s certainly harmed fewer people.

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