Why does Donald Trump hide his tax returns? Because they contain things he wants kept secret. He says it’s because what might be revealed would cost him competitive edge, but it’s more likely that what might be revealed would be breaches of ethics or laws.
Why did President Trump have a no-witnesses (other than interpreters) negotiation with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Because he wanted the freedom to say things no one but Putin could hear?
That might be acceptable for a chat, even a “walk in the woods.” But clearly the Russians think this was more like a consequential negotiation. Why else would they be talking about “agreements” between the two Presidents?
And why is Trump in such a hurry for a second summit? To confirm to his Boss what he’s already sworn?
And what’s that? You know; the stuff he’s still hiding from us (and his own intelligence agencies and the rest of his government.)
Could be trouble.
Or it could be just another sideshow from the Master of Distraction
Consider how Trump is constantly distracting our attention to this Tweet about the national anthem or that gratuitous atrocity, like knee-capping UK Prime Minister Teresa May. Why would he do that? An ass’s compulsion to bray? Good guess, but the President’s daily outbursts have drawn attention away from his attacks on the basic principles of global and national governance, not to mention human decency.
We’ll start with the latest absurdities that emerged fromTrump and Putin’s Helsinki summit (the parts we know about).
First, the principle of non-disclosure that has always been basic to the profession of diplomatic interpreter, tossed away for a demand for testimony before a Congressional Committee.
Wait, that was the Democrats! Holy cow, Trump is making them as stupid and irresponsible as he is. This is Trump’s branded improvement on the old chestnut, “destroy your enemies by making them mad.” His version is “destroy your enemies by making them Trumpish.”
More important than the specific protections for diplomatic interpreters are those extended to all diplomats, called “diplomatic immunity.” Immunity from what? Everything from physical attack or being taken hostage, to criminal prosecution or even interrogation. The principle of diplomatic “immunity” is what’s at stake in Trump’s “innocent” characterization as “very interesting” Putin’s suggestion that his prosecutors be given access to former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
Handing over a diplomat or former diplomat to hostile foreign interrogators? Unheard of for centuries. That’s how long it has been universally observed that diplomacy is hindered if diplomats are put at personal risk to conduct it.
Did no one tell the President? He must have heard of the principle, if only in the context of the NYC tabloids’ annual complaints about unpaid parking tickets from diplomatic cars. Maybe he thinks if he give up Amb. McFaul to FSB interrogation, Putin will pay off the tickets.
But that would benefit New York City, so I doubt it. Speculation on other kinds of payoffs would just be mean-spirited (if not unwarranted.)
Imagine diplomacy without immunity and, while you’re at it, imagine international alliances without mutual commitment. The essence of NATO, to name one prominent international alliance once valued in Washington, is collective security. Attack any member state, the NATO charter guarantees, and you will be attacking us all, and we will all collectively respond.
But President Trump suggests our miniscule NATO ally Montenegro may not be worth defending. Talk about a guy who misses the forest for one tiny tree. The Tinhorn Woodsman is undercutting a century or more of close collaboration and mutual trust between the US and Europe.
Bedrock alliances like NATO are what you get from observing those basic principles of diplomacy.
Trump to world: I REALLY DON’T CARE. DO U?
Meanwhile, back at home, equally basic, equally defining American principles are being destroyed.
Civil service protections: the only way you can get good people to serve in government jobs is to guarantee that the boss can only judge you on your work, not your politics. That’s been American law for 135 years, but a recent Trump Executive Order made exceptions. Political appointees can fire civil servants if they, in the words of Trump’s domestic policy adviser Andrew Bremberg, “undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”
What’s that mean? To Newt Gingrich it means Trump can get rid of people who voted against him.
Basic civil rights protections? Environmental protections? Disappearing fast. And only interventions through the courts have slowed down deportations.
The list of First Principles betrayed by Donald J. Trump seems endless, and we haven’t even gotten to the 10 Commandments.
The Devil may be in the details, but Trump’s endless details cover up a level of primal destruction Satan must envy.
Trump hides. Mueller seeks. Bet on the prosecutor. (And, please, the voters.)