Thursday, August 1, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He belatedly admitted he'd offered Russia help that he wouldn't give California.

Yesterday, Trump spoke on the phone with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The White House acknowledged the existence of that call, and released a readout of it, during the Democratic debate—and only after the Kremlin had once again been the first to tell Americans about contacts between the two.

According to the Russian version of the call, which the White House later confirmed, Trump offered Russia assistance in fighting wildfires that are raging in Siberia. 

It's not unprecedented for the United States to offer humanitarian aid to hostile countries—although Trump may be the only person in his administration who doesn't understand that Russia is not an ally of the United States. (Trump confirmed that he didn't bring up Russia's interference in U.S. elections, and specifically rejected the idea that it was ongoing. It is.)

Asked about it by reporters today, Trump said that he made the offer because the United States was "because we're very good at putting out forest fires, frankly."

That's true—when Trump is willing to let forest fires be put out. When wildfires struck California last year, though, Trump threatened to withhold federal money to fight them. Both the Siberian and California fires were the result of unusual weather patterns due to climate change, but Trump blamed California's problems on "gross mismanagement." (In reality, the fires started and spread on federal lands managed by the Trump administration.)

Why is this a bad thing?

  • California should be at least as high a priority for the President of the United States as Siberia.
  • A president who can't or won't acknowledge threats to the United States is unfit for office.