Johnston-Yurgine: Hell to pay for Helsinki

July 29, 2018

Ken: Shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, my liberal son assailed me by email about President Trump’s Helsinki news conference comments giving support to Putin and denigrating his own intelligence agencies.

Even Fox News is calling prez trump a political novice and a stooge. Maybe they are grooming a path for prez Pence. CJ

I replied that, historically, Trump has been stern with Russia by imposing stiff sanctions and even mounting military resistance to Russian operations in Syria. The lad kept after me with talking points from CNN and MSNBC. I replied finally, “Since I am a Trump donor, he emails to ask me what to do in some sticky situations, recently the Helsinki/Russian Summit — Of course, I advised, ‘Punch the stuffing out that thuggish SOB Putin. Otherwise the adversarial press will call you a weak p----.’ Sadly, Donald didn’t take my advice.” Knowing me to be unlikely to donate enough to any politician to ever gain special influence, CJ responded, “Ha, Ha.”

Actually, it looks as though Trump walked into a trap set by nemesis Mueller who posted indictments for election interference against another passel of Russians a few days before Helsinki. Should Trump get stern with Putin, he would be reaffirming the grounds for the FBI investigation. Should he express doubts about Russian hacking in response to Putin’s denials, Trump questions reports coming from American intelligence agencies? Either way, the Dems and their media dogs snap at POTUS once again. And as Commander in Chief, doesn’t Trump, unlike us peons, get unfiltered access to the detailed intel reports and, by raising doubts, indicate he doesn’t totally buy the standard line?

Joe: Trump hoisted his hammer and sickle colors in Helsinki by standing next to Putin and declaring Putin’s KGB intelligence was more believable than our own. By doing so, it expressed his loyalty to a foreign power over his own country. There are a lot of imperfect people in the world. You can live with the lapses of others, but not when they are the president and can endanger so much. What Trump did produced much condemnation from many notable Republicans. John McCain called Helsinki “One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president” and George Will, the conservative columnist, calls Trump an “embarrassing wreck of a man.” Then, there is Michael Gerson, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush, who stated, “Trump’s political tools have become Putin’s useful idiots. The party of national strength has become an obstacle to the effective protection of the country.” Newt Gingrich stated Trump committed “the most serious mistake of his presidency.” The sad part is all of this means nothing to the GOP Congress, which continues to dither and do nothing about it. They could for example censure the president. They could strengthen Russian sanctions. Frankly, I’d like to see them demand his tax returns. Trump’s motive for cozying up to the Russians has not yet been fully explained. At some point, it will be the biggest story, perhaps revealing damaging financial information from his Russian dealings and/or Russian support for his failing business empire and loan balances.

Ken: Once again beleaguered Trump’s enemies — they are legion — have taken an utterance and are trying to hype and inflate its importance to the level of “Pearl Harbor” or “Kristallnacht.” Washington has gone berserk regarding a few words Trump already has tried to walk back. Nonlawyer Trump, often speaking or twittering loutishly, is the opposite of Obama, who delivered carefully edited speeches using the teleprompter when possible — if no teleprompter, he spoke slowly, mentally parsing each word. True, the relations between the U.S. and Russia have been cold to icy ever since World War II, but we’re not at war, and a botched statement does not constitute treason. While there were better choices of words, a summit of presidents doesn’t seem to me to be a sensible place to openly dis or “punch out” Putin. What’s to like about Trump? — his results. He already has punished Russia for its activities. All the U.S. economic indicators are good, controlling immigration is desirable and at present is the pre-existing law. The outcomes from Trump’s foreign policy are still in flux but are potentially beneficial for future U.S. trade relation and the North Korean threat seems reduced. Moreover, Russia is not the only adversarial hacker in the world — China and possibly others do as well or better.

Joe: It’s Saturday. Got up, made coffee and picked up the morning Times, expecting to see yet another revelation on Helsinki or some other Trump scandal or faux pas. Sure enough! There on Page 1 was the bold headline “Lawyer’s Secret Tape Reveals Trump’s Talk of Payments to Model,” confirming another lie Trump has made since taking office. Because I planned to have breakfast with a friend today, a die-hard staunch Trump supporter, I felt it time that “a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part” as Otter proposed in the movie “Animal House.” My friend is a retired Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who moved to Las Vegas for the climate and because it offered cheap living. Over breakfast, I showed him a copy of the headline in the Times. Then, I handed him the definitive list of some 2,000 Trump lies (up to Dec. 14, 2017) I had tucked away for reference. Some of the lies were so bad they had more metastases than in cancer itself. “Well,” I said. “What do you think? They are like cockroaches, right? Find one, and there are sure to be others.” His response was not unexpected. “So?” “What do you mean, ‘So’?” I asked. “Everyone lies,” he said. “It’s inherent in our society. They lie about their weight. They lie about their golf scores. What difference does it make with Trump? Give the guy a mulligan. Did you see where the Dow ended yesterday?” I kind of knew he would bring that up. This is what our society has become. The serial liar holding our highest office has no interest in integrity and telling the truth. He’s done it so much he can’t distinguish the truth within himself. For his supporters, it’s OK — just another mulligan. They don’t care.

Ken: Remember Bill Clinton on TV waggling his finger and lying? Obama whoppered, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Trump’s most recent lie is not, per se, criminal, but I suspect leaking his lawyer’s files to the press is. I’m with your pal — all the way.

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