Rememeber: taking Putin at his word was not the worst thing he said at the press conference

>> Thursday, July 19, 2018

PUTIN: He can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal and official request to us so that we would interrogate, we would hold the questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes and our law enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States.

Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit official representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can lead them into the country and they will be present at this questioning.

But in this case, there's another condition. This kind of effort should be a mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate and that they would question officials including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States, whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.


TRUMP: He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. Ok? Thank you.

Let's just take a second to amplify something.  While a great deal of attention has rightly been given to Donald Trump's acceptance of Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances that Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 American Presidential election, and to Trump's effectively throwing the American intelligence community under a bus, and then to his subsequent walk-back-walk-up-what-about-her-e-mails shuffle over the past several days, this was actually the second most draw-dropping bomb Trump dropped at the Russian summit joint press conference.  Or maybe even the third, depending on how you want to collate things.

The most draw-dropping, stunning, unbelievable, is this really happening thing(s) Trump said at the conference was his endorsement of Putin's offer to insert Russian investigators into Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Putin's request that the United States agree to allow Russian investigators to interrogate American citizens.

The Presidential Oath of Office merely has the President of the United States swear or affirm that he'll protect and defend the Constitution of the United States--but that Constitution contains a Preamble citing common defense and the blessings of liberty and a number of Amendments (Amendments 1-8 and 13-15, if you want to get specific) designed to protect the rights of individual Americans.  So you might say the duties of the President incorporate by reference a duty to protect the rights of individuals (citizens generally, and resident non-citizens to whom specific clauses apply).  That's certainly the way this country has always done things, with the history of American Presidents taking active interest in the rights of individual Americans at home and abroad going back at least as far as the Jefferson Administration.

And during the Cold War, we certainly extended that "protector of personal liberty" idea to the entire world.  Which seems particularly relevant here, in that we were offering that mantle of protection against the Soviet Union in which Vladimir Putin was a KGB operative.

If corpses rolling in their graves is really a thing, I feel comfortable in saying that Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford would all be turning fast enough to power the entire Eastern seaboard if they got wind that an American President was basically offering to turn American citizens over to the Russians for interrogation.  We used to get worked up and impose sanctions on Russians for the things that went on during Russian interrogations.

What the actual fuck?

Getting flabbergasted about that, I don't want to be any less flabbergasted about Trump basically offering to let the foxes take charge of the henhouse.  Since when has it been a good idea to let foreign intelligence operatives take part in a counterintelligence investigation against themselves?  Or, related question, to let criminal suspects control their own investigation by law enforcement.  (The Mueller investigation having both counterintelligence and criminal investigation angles.)  Since when do we do that?  What kind of compromised moron says that's a good idea, "an incredible offer"?  It certainly is an incredible offer, in the sense of being such a gobsmackingly risible offer that it's hard to believe anybody would seriously make it in the first place.

Even if you believe one of Trump's short-lived walk-backs about stupid things he said at the press conference, that he said "I don't see any reason why it would be [Russian interference in the election]" but he really meant "wouldn't"--oh for fuck's sake, why am I even writing this paragraph?  This is such obvious bullshit, the rotten, bloated cretin said what he meant the first time and meant what he said, and saying he meant something else is a childish lie.  But, okay, let's finish the thought through the absurd premise: even if you, for the sake of mental experiment or because you are profoundly stupid, chose to believe that silly nonsense about "would"/"wouldn't", it would not alter by even a nanometer that the ostensible President of the United States said he thinks it would be great to let Russians investigate the case against themselves, and that it would be great to abrogate the rights and possibly liberties of American citizens and other free people (Bill Browder, who was mentioned by name, being a British citizen and--I cannot believe I have to write this--currently safe from America's clutches).

I cannot think of another American President in my lifetime or any other who would endorse foreign intelligence operatives questioning Americans in a counterintelligence investigation involving espionage conducted against the United States by their country.  

I can, however, think of a few American Presidents who would have responded angrily in public to such a floater, and at least one who might have vigorously taken his walking stick to whomever proposed it.

I should probably close this, because I'm dangerously close to incoherent spluttering at this point.


Warner Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 11:54:00 AM EDT  

I could see Reagan, in his second term, thinking it was a good idea but then Reagan in his second term would have thought dating Marion Robert Morrison a good idea.

Eric Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 12:23:00 PM EDT  


Second term Ronald Reagan. The worst thing about him answering Iran-Contra questions with "I don't remember" and "I can't recall" was that it was a perfectly plausible response by that point.

Talk about your 25th Amendment issues. We did survive Reagan, right? For this? Oi.

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