Trump and outgoing British PM Theresa May.
Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
The weekend leak of a British diplomatic cable savaging President Trump was a minor event by Trump-era standards. That’s in part because it came via the British press on an American holiday weekend, but also because the memo’s author, British ambassador Kim Darroch, didn’t break new ground in assessing the president and his administration. Trump, he wrote, is dim-witted (“you need to make your points simple, even blunt”), susceptible to flattery (“you need to start praising him for something that he’s done recently”), lies constantly, potentially compromised by Russia (“the worst cannot be ruled out”), and generally incompetent (“we don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept”).
We knew all that already. What’s more, we knew that the world (whose diplomatic strategy with the 45th president mixes delicate flattery with low-grade bribes ) knew it already. Even many members of Trump’s own administration know this. Yet Trump’s reaction to the story indicates that he regards it as especially offensive and even dangerous.
Trump told reporters, “The ambassador has not served the U.K. well. I can tell you that. We’re not big fans of that man … So, I can understand it and I can say things about him as well, but I won’t bother.” Later he tweeted out a similar message:
It’s notable that rather than lashing out with his customary viciousness, Trump is attempting to isolate the issue to the idiosyncratic views of a single, “wacky” ambassador who will soon be replaced. Meanwhile, Trump insists he maintains good relations with the royal family and the (unnamed) next British prime minister.
The president’s unusual restraint may reflect two realities that Democrats ought to bear in mind. A pollster once told me that one of the few foreign-policy facts that registers in the minds of the electorate is the country’s standing with its allies; a rift with friendly nations actually bothers lots of people. A Pew survey from a couple years ago found that 59 percent of Americans believe their country “should take into account the interests of its allies even if it means making compromises with them,” while only 36 percent agreed that it “should follow its own national interests even when its allies strongly disagree.” Trump’s notion of “America first” does not command popular support, and hostility toward a country like Great Britain can actually hurt Trump.
Second, the memo validates questions about Trump’s fitness for office. In a recent poll, 65 percent of the public agreed Trump has “acted in a way that’s unpresidential.” Of course, some of that 65 percent approve of Trump’s overall performance anyway — they’re Republicans, after all — but the size of this number shows just how many Americans find his conduct distasteful or worse.
The case against Trump contains so many damning particulars, it is difficult to narrow it down. But the existence of a written memo confirming the view of a close American ally that Trump is utterly unfit for office might qualify as one of those facts the opposition should bring to the public’s attention.
Why Trump Fears the Secret British Memo Calling Him a Clown
Biden’s doing pretty well these days
NEW: Joe Biden releases tax returns and financial disclosure forms. His tax returns show that he reported $11 million in income for 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018 – largely through book payments and speaking fees.
the national interest
the national interest
Why Trump Fears the Secret British Memo Calling Him a Clown
By Jonathan Chait
We already knew that, but the source of the information makes it especially damaging.
If You’re Going to Brag About Trolling, You Should at Least Be Good at It
By Brian Feldman
We can do better that threatening to gun down Mr. Peanut.
Ohio Congresswoman with an instant classic in the “how do you do, fellow kids?” genre
McConnell on ACA case being argued right now in Appeals Court in New Orleans: If SCOTUS strikes down pre-ex protections in ACA “We would act quickly, on a bipartisan basis, to restore it.”
Isn’t this exactly what Congressional oversight is for?
Steele grilled by DOJ
Ross Perot Will Remain a Legend Among Foes of Partisanship
By Ed Kilgore
The business executive, who died today at 89, ran fascinating presidential campaigns in ’92 and ’96, but they were very much a product of the time.
Still OK for you to block him though
President Trump cannot block his critics from the Twitter feed he regularly uses to communicate with the public, a federal appeals court said Tuesday, in a case with implications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media.
The decision from the New York-based appeals court upholds an earlier ruling that Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked individual users critical of the president or his policies.
Alex Acosta attempts some cleanup on Twitter
The crimes committed by Epstein are horrific, and I am pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence.
With the evidence available more than a decade ago, federal prosecutors insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.
Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the NY prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.
Everything is fine
Tom Steyer Launches Another Presidential Candidacy We Don’t Need
By Ed Kilgore
It will take even more money than Tom Steyer has to find voters who believe he is uniquely capable of fighting the power of money in politics.
So Was QAnon … Right?
By Max Read
Purveyors of the Trumpist conspiracy predicted that an elite sex- trafficking network would be revealed last week. Does the Epstein indictment count?
As Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta Is Still Shielding the Wealthy
By Sarah Jones
His disqualifying habit of protecting the rich at the expense of the poor and vulnerable goes far beyond Jeffrey Epstein.
Schumer getting in on the Acosta piñata
Schumer says that it’s now “impossible” for Labor Secretary Acosta to do his job over the Epstein scandal, calls on him to resign or Trump to fire him
One of the most successful third-party candidates in presidential history is dead
The calls for Alexander Acosta to resign are accelerating
Since when do underage girl sex ring traffickers get to go to their office every day while they serve their time? The victims should have had a say. That’s what the law says. I didn’t vote for former Florida U.S. Attorney Acosta to begin with and he should step down.
It’s an uphill battle for Mitch McConnell’s new challenger
Does a single person want this?
WASHINGTON (AP) — Reversing course, billionaire investor and activist Tom Steyer launches 2020 Democratic presidential bid.
The Seth Rich conspiracy theory was reportedly promoted by Russian intelligence
In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.
Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.
After a Splashy Launch, JFK’s TWA Hotel Has Become an Aviation Nerd’s Paradise
By Rachel Handler
On the runway with the “av geeks.”
It’s a good thing Mueller is testifying because even members of Congress can’t read
Time for a Mueller report reality check: Only a small segment of America’s most powerful have read it.
President Donald Trump can’t give a straight answer about the subject. More than a dozen members of Congress readily admitted to POLITICO that they too have skipped around rather than studying every one of the special counsel report’s 448 pages. And despite the report technically ranking as a best-seller, only a tiny fraction of the American public has actually cracked the cover and really dived in.
Pelosi is calling for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s resignation over his involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s non-prosecution deal
The White House prevented one of Mueller’s top witnesses from testifying to Congress
The White House has blocked a third witness who provided crucial testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller from describing the chaos she witnessed in the West Wing as President Donald Trump sought to assert control over the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“The White House has directed that I not respond to this question because of the constitutionally-based executive branch confidentiality interests that are implicated,” former top White House aide Annie Donaldson repeated more than 200 times in written responses to the House Judiciary Committee, according to a transcript released Monday.
In other Mitch McConnell news
Former Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath announced Tuesday that she wants to challenge U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, ending months of speculation about whether she’d try to take out one of the most powerful political figures in the country.
In a three-minute video on social media and on the MSNBC show Morning Joe, McGrath touched on familiar themes from her failed 2018 bid to defeat U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington — her military service, healthcare, gridlock in Congress — while painting a bullseye on McConnell, blaming him for the dysfunction in the nation’s capital.
“Everything that’s wrong in Washington had to start someplace. How did it come to this, that even within our own families, we can’t talk to each other about the leaders of our country anymore without anger and blame?” McGrath says. “Well it started with this man, who was elected a lifetime ago and who has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”
Does it work when the politician in question revels in his villainy?
Democrats want to flip the script on Republicans by using Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the poster boy for next year’s congressional elections.
They think they can use the self-described “Grim Reaper” in swing races in the same way Republicans have demonized Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in previous election years.
McConnell has often flown below the public’s radar with his low-key demeanor, but after two bruising Supreme Court fights over the past three years and the recent accumulation of House-passed bills going nowhere in the Senate, Democrats say using McConnell as a rallying banner can be part of a winning strategy.
“You’ve seen the polls, his numbers are in the tank. I think it can be effective,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a former chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said of tying Republican Senate candidates to McConnell next year.
Shari Redstone’s $30 Billion Triumph
By Irin Carmon
Belittled by Viacom and CBS executives, mocked by journalists, and insulted by her own father, the 62-year-old heiress now sits atop a media empire.
Everything We Know About Jeffrey Epstein’s Upper East Side Mansion
By Matt Stieb
The home, which was raided by the FBI, is one of the largest private residences in Manhattan. It features a prison mural and other bizarre decor.
It’s highly unlikely the revelation will change McConnell’s stance on the matter
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said recently he opposes paying government reparations to the descendants of American slaves, has a family history deeply entwined in the issue: Two of his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners, U.S. census records show.
The two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama — all but two of them female, according to the county “Slave Schedules” in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” he said June 18, a day before the House reparations hearing. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”
Slavery experts have stressed that descendants of slave owners should not be held personally responsible for the deeds of their forebears. But they have also argued that the families that descended from slave owners, like McConnell’s, are likely to have benefited from the labor of slaves that propped up farm families in earlier generations — a point made by many reparations supporters, who have said that descendants of slaves were never compensated for the economic benefit their forebears made to white families.