Friday, August 2, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He blamed the media for a failed nomination, and then blamed them for not catching it sooner.

Trump abruptly withdrew his nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as the Director of National Intelligence today. Ratcliffe, who more or less openly auditioned for the job by attacking Robert Mueller during a congressional hearing, brought no qualifications to the job—something even Republicans had privately warned Trump about. But the nail in the coffin was the revelation that Ratcliffe had lied about his previous work as a prosecutor.

Ratcliffe had claimed that "as a U.S. Attorney, I arrested over 300 illegal immigrants on a single day." This turned out to be fantastically untrue. The raid in question resulted in 45 arrests, not 300—and Ratcliffe was not personally involved in the arrests. Of those 45, six were immediately dismissed. Two of the people arrested as "illegal immigrants" were, in fact, U.S. citizens. Those arrested were working at poultry processing plants, and no serious charges were filed as a result of the raid.

Ratcliffe also claimed to have "put terrorists in prison," but there's no evidence he ever worked on any terrorism cases.

Trump's first reaction to these lies—all of which were discovered by reporters consulting publicly available documents—was to blame the reporters. In a defensive tweet announcing that he was pulling Ratcliffe's nomination, Trump complained that Ratcliffe was being "treated very unfairly."

Later in the day, asked why his administration had failed to adequately look into Ratcliffe's past, Trump said that vetting his nominees was the media's job—but eventually wandered back to the idea that it was "unfair" for the media to report on Ratcliffe.

No, you vet for me. I like when you vet. No, you vet. I think the White House has a great vetting process. You vet for me. When I give a name, I give it out to the press and you vet for me. A lot of times you do a very good job. Not always… If you look at it, I mean, if you take a look at it, the vetting process for the White House is very good. But you’re part of the vetting process, you know? I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way. But in the case of John, I believe that he was being treated very harshly and very unfairly.

Who cares?

  • The president, not the media, is responsible for the people he appoints.
  • This is why it's bad to give out important government positions on the basis of flattery.