Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said it was a lie that he'd done with China what he'd done with Russia and Ukraine.

Today, Trump signed a bill targeting China for its human rights abuses of its Uyghur Muslim population. The bill passed 407-1 in the House and unanimously in the Senate, but in spite of that veto-proof majority, Trump's signature was by no means certain. 

For all Trump's blustery rhetoric on Chinese trade, he's been outright submissive when it comes to actually taking direct action against it for its human rights violations. He complained when Congress passed a law aimed at ensuring Hong Kong's autonomy during recent protests there, claiming it made it harder to get his trade "deal" partially de-escalating the trade war. Trump defended Xi Jinping during the Chinese government crackdown in Hong Kong, and proceeded to repeatedly praise Xi for China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak

Today also saw the release of the first excerpts from a book written by Trump's former national security advisor, John Bolton. In the book, Bolton says Trump pleaded with Xi for China's support for him during the 2020 election. In turn, Trump promised a friendlier policy than Democrats would offer China.

In other words, Bolton is saying that Trump tried to make the same deal with China that he did with Ukraine and, as a candidate, Russia: policy concessions in exchange for election interference on Trump's behalf.

Of course, Trump has also offered his part of a China quid pro quo on live TV—just like he did with Russia.

In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to silence Bolton, Trump has ordered his Justice Department to sue to prevent the publication of the book, and has even threatened criminal charges against Bolton. Trump's theory is that literally anything he said to Bolton was automatically classified, which is legally absurd. Confusingly, Trump is also claiming that everything Bolton is saying is a lie—which would mean it's not classified.

What is the problem with this?

  • The word for a government official who tries to make corrupt bargains with hostile foreign powers is "traitor."
  • The leader threatening critics with prison so that he can hold on to power isn't something that happens in a democracy.