Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He blamed Michael Flynn's resignation on unfair media coverage, contradicting himself and his own spokespersons.

Trump called Flynn "a wonderful man" who had been "treated very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it, the fake media in many cases." This is at least the third different framing in the last two days. The White House has claimed that Flynn resigned voluntarily and that he was fired; that he had the Trump's full confidence and that Trump's trust in Flynn was "eroding."

Trump was formally notified that Flynn had lied about the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and was vulnerable to blackmail as a result, on January 26th. He has offered no explanation as to why Flynn was allowed to remain as Trump's point person on intelligence until this was leaked to the media three weeks later. 

Trump did not specify what in the media reports was "unfair," but he did call the leaks "illegal" and said that this, and not Flynn's behavior, was the real scandal.

So what?

  • In a democracy, it is neither illegal nor unfair for reporters to report on leaks after they have happened.
  • It's bad if a president only addresses compromised intelligence officials inside the White House when it starts looking bad in the media.