Three Tweets

Let’s finish up the morning by taking a look at a few of Donald Trump’s tweets. I usually try not to bother with this, but today’s crop is remarkable for reasons that go far beyond Trump’s standard lineup of mindless insults (though there are a few of those too). First, there’s this:

The president of the United States—the country’s chief law-enforcement officer—is berating his own Attorney General for bringing criminal charges against two Republicans. There’s no question that the indictments against Reps. Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins were entirely proper: the evidence against both men was significant and the allegations against them were serious. And yet Trump seems to think they shouldn’t have been charged because it hurts Republican chances of keeping control of the House. Note that there is no attempt at subtlety here. He just flat-out thinks a Republican attorney general shouldn’t bring criminal cases against Republican members of Congress if it might hurt the Republican Party.

Next up are a couple of routine insults, and then this:

Apparently Donald “Bomb the hell out of them” Trump is suddenly a humanitarian. Naturally I applaud this change of heart, but what on earth makes Trump think that a tweet will have the slightest influence on Bashar al-Assad? I can’t imagine this will accomplish anything except making Trump look like a helpless supplicant. Assad is going to take control of Idlib the same way he takes control of everything—siege, bomb, starve, kill, destroy—and there’s nothing Trump can do about it. So now, after screwing up everything and allying himself with Russia in hopes of something or other, he’s begging Assad to go easy on former American allies. I don’t doubt for a second that it will give Assad considerable pleasure to show Trump just how little he cares about his wishes.

Finally, there’s this:

At first glance this looks like an ordinary Trump tweet: I’m innocent, witch hunt, blah blah blah. What makes it weird is that Trump doesn’t seem to understand what this New York Times story actually says. The whole story is here, and it explains that Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele¹ began working together in 2014 in an operation to flip a Russian oligarch. This was long before the presidential campaign and long before Steele wrote his infamous dossier. This is why they were working together—they both had expertise in Russian organized crime—and this is why the FISA court issued surveillance warrants against Paul Manafort and others. Even at this early date, the FBI suspected that Russia planned to interfere with American elections.

But here’s the thing: as Cheryl Rofer points out, all this stuff was highly classified, as it should have been. Republicans on the various congressional intelligence committees knew it was classified and therefore no one would ever learn about it. That meant they could claim the FISA warrants were all based on the dossier and no one would ever know they were lying. Because of this, the intelligence community finally leaked the real story:

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an initiative that remains classified. Most expressed deep discomfort, saying they feared that in revealing the attempts to cultivate Mr. Deripaska and other oligarchs they were undermining American national security and strengthening the grip that Mr. Putin holds over those who surround him. But they also said they did not want Mr. Trump and his allies to use the program’s secrecy as a screen with which they could cherry-pick facts and present them, sheared of context, to undermine the special counsel’s investigation. That, too, they said they feared, would damage American security.

They weren’t happy about leaking. But they were even less happy about Republicans deliberately using the classification system as a way of lying about the Mueller investigation with no repercussions.

Bottom line: the dossier had little or nothing to do with the FISA court warrants that were issued against Manafort and others. Republicans have known that all along but figured they could lie about it with impunity. However, Donald Trump—because he’s too dumb to realize what he’s done—has now tweeted out a story that tells the truth for everyone to read. What an idiot.

¹For those of you with either short memories or interesting lives: Bruce Ohr is a longtime FBI agent specializing in organized crime, including Russian organized crime. Christopher Steele is the ex-British spy who wrote a “dossier” in 2016 that collected lots of raw intel about possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Needless to say, Trump hates them both and is convinved that they were working for the Democratic Party to bring him down on false charges of collusion with Russia.