Monday, May 22, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He declared himself innocent of something nobody had accused him of doing.

Appearing with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu today, Trump abruptly signaled for quiet during a photo session and said the following to reporters: "Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name 'Israel.' Never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word 'Israel.'" 

Last Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump had revealed another country's highly sensitive intelligence findings to Russian envoys. This was initially denied by the White House before being defiantly confirmed by Trump himself the following day. Neither the Post article nor any other accused Trump of having revealed the specific country whose sources and methods he was accidentally exposing. Rather, as a follow-up article in the New York Times put it, he simply “provided enough details to effectively expose the source of the information and the manner in which it had been collected.” Trump may not even have known at the time where the information came from, although presumably he had been told that it was "code-word" secret when he bragged about it to the Russian foreign minister.

It was not clear whether today's statement was a deliberate deflection on Trump's part, or an attempt to clear the air with Netanyahu, or simply confusion about why his leaking of Israeli secrets to an ally of Iran and Syria had caused such outrage. Trump canceled an event in Riyadh the previous day, citing exhaustion.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • It's pretty unlikely that Netanyahu is as confused about what Trump did as Trump seemed to be.