Sunday, July 28, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He rid himself of an intelligence chief who told him things he didn't want to hear.

Trump forced Dan Coats out of his job as director of national intelligence today. Coats's offense seems to have been that he repeatedly brought Trump information he didn't want to hear. For example, Coats passed on the intelligence community's unanimous finding that Russia had and was continuing to attempt to sabotage American elections, and that North Korea was manipulating him with fake peace overtures. 

Trump also said he'd replace Coats with Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). Ratcliffe, a former mayor and trial lawyer with no intelligence experience, was almost unknown on the national stage until last week when he furiously attacked special counsel Robert Mueller during Mueller's testimony before Congress, saying that Mueller had a duty to exonerate Trump. (In response, Mueller repeated that he didn't exonerate Trump because the evidence didn't permit it, and noted that Trump could still be indicted after he leaves the protective bubble of the presidency.)

Ratcliffe's performance was widely recognized at the time as a sort of "audition" for Coats's job. It seems to have convinced Trump, whose desperate need for flattery, no matter how obviously fake, is legendary. But many other Republicans have expressed doubts about Ratcliffe's fitness for the job. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chair of the committee that will consider Ratcliffe's nomination, warned Trump that Ratcliffe was a poor choice.

How is this a bad thing?

  • A president who can't bear to hear things he doesn't like from intelligence agencies can't do the job of defending the United States.
  • It shouldn't be this easy to manipulate a president.