Wednesday, October 18, 2017
"Staffers at the National Security Council drafted and circulated a statement of condolence for President Donald Trump to make almost immediately after a deadly ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month.
But Trump never publicly issued the statement, and, some two weeks later, is now in hot water over his initial silence on the soldiers’ deaths and alleged controversial comments he made to a widow of one of the dead.
The draft statement, a copy of which was seen by POLITICO on Wednesday, was put together on Oct. 5 and reads as follows:
‘Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.
'We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.
'The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.’
The statement was circulated among NSC officials as well as Defense Department officials. But it was never released, and it was not immediately clear why."
Fallen Sgt. La David Johnson, caught in Trump call controversy, was ‘a family-oriented soldier’ - The Washington Post
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Trump disputes account of his call with La David Johnson's widow. But congresswoman who heard exchange says it was ‘horrible.’ - The Washington Post
"President Trump's response to the deaths of four soldiers in Niger is causing an uproar after Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla) said he told Sgt. La David Johnson's widow that her husband 'knew what he was signing up for.' (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump ‘did disrespect my son’ with remarks in a condolence telephone call.
Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. She also stood by an account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband ‘must have known what he signed up for.’
‘President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,’ Jones-Johnson said."
"...Many of Trump’s lies are hideously personal. His false charge that President Barack Obama failed to phone or speak to the families of members of the armed services killed in the line of duty was particularly sordid.
And Trump’s track record with the truth and his monumental insensitivity to others make it hard to believe his tweeted denial that he told a grieving soldier’s widow that her husband knew “what he signed up for.” The credibility of the denial was further undercut when Cowanda Jones-Johnson, the mother of the late Sgt. La David T. Johnson, told The Post that Trump had spoken to the family as had been reported and “did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”
It has become a dreary Washington game to ask at what point Republican politicians (besides Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John McCain (Ariz.) and a few others) will stand up for basic decency by telling Trump: Enough. Up to now, most have cravenly absorbed all manner of insults, accepted unspeakable unseemliness, and sat by with wan smiles as Trump left them hanging by shifting his positions moment to moment..."
Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a phone call and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.- The Washington Post
The Trump Doctrine - Well, it took almost a year, but we now have the “Trump Doctrine.” It’s very simple. And, as you’d expect, it fits neatly into a tweet. On nearly every major issue, President Trump’s position is: “Obama built it. I broke it. You fix it.”-The New York Times
By Thomas Friedman
"Well, it took almost a year, but we now have the “Trump Doctrine.” It’s very simple. And, as you’d expect, it fits neatly into a tweet. On nearly every major issue, President Trump’s position is: “Obama built it. I broke it. You fix it.”
And that cuts right to the core of what is the most frightening thing about the Trump presidency. It’s not the president’s juvenile tweeting or all the aides who’ve been pushed out of his clown car at high speed or his industrial-strength lying.
It’s Trump’s willingness to unravel so many longstanding policies and institutions at once — from Nafta to Obamacare to the global climate accord to the domestic clean power initiative to the Pacific trade deal to the Iran nuclear deal — without any real preparation either on the day before or for the morning after.
Indeed, Trump has made most of his climate, health, energy and economic decisions without consulting any scientists, without inviting into the White House a broad range of experts, without putting forth his own clear-cut alternatives to the systems he’s unraveling, without having at the ready a team of aides or a political coalition able to implement any alternatives and without a strategic framework that connects all of his dots.
In short, we’re simply supposed to take the president’s word that this or that deal “is the worst deal ever” — backed up by no serious argument or plan about how he will produce a better one.
I’m open to improving any of these accords or institutions. I’m even open to the possibility that by just tipping over all these accords at once, and throwing away his steering wheel, Trump will get people to improve the Iran deal or Obamacare out of sheer panic at the chaos that might ensue if they don’t.
But I am equally open to the possibility that unraveling all of these big systems at once — health, energy, geopolitics — without a clear plan or a capable team will set in motion chain reactions, some of them long term, that Trump has not thought through in the least. Moreover, when you break big systems, which, albeit imperfectly, have stabilized regions, environments or industries for decades, it can be very difficult to restore them.
Question: We’re told by our secretary of state that he’s been engaged in some secret contacts with North Korea, exploring the possibility of a diplomatic solution that might dramatically reduce North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in return for U.S. promises of regime security. If, at the same time, Trump unilaterally pulls out of the deal we’ve already signed with Iran to prevent it from developing nukes — and Trump moves to reimpose sanctions — how does that not send only one message to the North Koreans: No deal with the U.S. is worth the paper it’s written on, so you’d be wise to hold on to all your nukes?
Question: Iran controls tens of thousands of Shiite militiamen in Iraq and Syria who were our tacit allies in defeating ISIS. Tehran also has huge influence over Iraq’s government and over certain regions of Afghanistan as well. Can we stabilize Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan — post-ISIS — and keep our troop presence low and safe, without Iran’s help — and will that help be coming after Trump rips up the nuclear deal? If you think so, please raise your hand.
And since our European allies as well as Russia and China have indicated that they will not follow us in backing out of the Iran deal or reimposing sanctions, Iran would have all the moral high ground and money it needs, and the U.S. would be isolated. Are we going to sanction E.U. banks if they deal with Iran?
Trump came into office vowing to end the trade imbalance with China — a worthy goal. And what was his first move? To tear up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal that would have put the U.S. at the helm of a 12-nation trading bloc built around U.S. interests and values, potentially eliminating some 18,000 tariffs on U.S. goods and controlling 40 percent of global G.D.P. And China was not in the group. That’s called leverage.
Trump just ripped up the TPP to “satisfy the base” and is now left begging China for trade crumbs, with little leverage. And because he needs China’s help in dealing with North Korea, he has even less leverage on trade.
Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and, at the same time, restricted U.S. government funding for birth control both at home and abroad. Question: What is driving so many immigrants and refugees in Africa, the Middle East and Central America to try to get out of their world of disorder and into America and Europe and the world order?
Answer: It is a cocktail of climate change, environmental degradation, population explosions and misgovernance in these countries. So Trump’s policy is to throw away every tool we have to mitigate climate change and population growth and try to build a wall instead, while also trying to bully Mexico’s unpopular president into trade concessions, which could help elect a radical populist in next year’s Mexican election — a successor who would be anti-American — and destabilize its economy as well.
At a time when China has decided to go full-bore into clean tech and electric cars, at a time when all of the tech giants are building data centers that they want powered by clean energy, at a time when solar and wind power are growing increasingly competitive with fossil fuels (and America still has a technological lead in many of these areas), at a time when climate change may be stimulating bigger hurricanes and forest fires that are costing us hundreds of billions of dollars, Trump’s central energy initiative is to reverse Obama’s and bring back coal-fired power.
None of these dots connect. And we will pay for that. “Whiplash” was a great movie. But it’s a terrible organizing principle for our foreign or domestic policy."
The Trump Doctrine - The New York Times