Trump makes Hillary’s email server look sort of tame

I was in a hurry to get to the Red Cross this afternoon to give platelets (which you should do, too, because there’s a need), so I posted that Open Thread and ran.

In doing so, I made note of Trump’s gross carelessness with national security at his country club over the weekend, but just thought “That’s pretty bad,” and ran.

Once I settled in at the Red Cross and starting pumping the red red krovvy, I started watching something on Amazon and forgot all for the moment. But then, in my second hour, the wifi started acting up, so I switched to reading stuff in The Washington Post that I had missed earlier in the day.

And it seemed that everyone who had stopped to think made the obvious comparison.

Remember Hillary Clinton’s email server? Something I thought was really stupid and insecure, but — unlike what a lot of you out there thought — not quite a disqualifier for office, especially if the alternative was Donald J. Trump?

Well, a lot of very serious folk did think it was a disqualifier. Much umbrage was taken at this criminal carelessness. Congressional committees gathered to investigate, and so forth.

Well, what was that to taking a call about a North Korean missile launch at a table at the Mar-a-Lago club, and dealing with it then and there, discussing the matter and shuffling classified documents in full view of the club’s other guests, the Japanese premier, and the waiters and bus boys? Doing all so openly so that the other guests could give a full account of the proceedings to CNN?

As Dana Milbank notes, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ committee “five days of ’emergency’ hearings probing Clinton’s emails and issued 12 subpoenas,” and is currently conducting an investigation of the cartoon character Sid the Science Kid, but hasn’t shown the slightest interest in probing anything Trump-related, such as the warnings that the National Security Adviser may have been compromised by the Russians, or (so far) this:

Chaffetz thought Clinton’s use of a private email server threatened national security. But over the weekend, Trump proved more brazen: He plotted his response to North Korea’s latest missile test from the main dining area of his Mar-a-Lago Club. Club members posted photos on Facebook of Trump and Japan’s Shinzo Abe discussing the matter and poring over documents in proximity to waiters, club members and guests.

In this open-air situation room, Trump spoke by mobile phone and aides used their cellphone flashlights to illuminate papers — not the textbook way to handle sensitive information. One club member posted photos online of the nuclear “football” and its minder….

Oh, but wait, wait; this just in: Sean Spicer assures us that “no classified material was discussed publicly at the Mar-a-Lago resort over the weekend.”

Whew! That’s a relief. Because you know, he never gets anything wrong.

So, never mind. I’m sure everything’s fine. Aren’t you?

Now, what was the latest on that Flynn situation? It’s so hard to keep up; so much is happening…

58 thoughts on “Trump makes Hillary’s email server look sort of tame

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Brian, help me out here.

      During the election, you did a great job of keeping us all focused on what a serious consideration Hillary’s email was. And it was. It could even have been a deciding factor for serious voters in an “all-other-things-being-equal” situation, or even in an election in which she was running against a normal human being with some semblance of a qualification or two.

      So it would help me to know: How do think her inexcusable carelessness in that situation compares to the “everybody-look-at-me-I’m-being-president” spectacle at Mar-a-Lago, combined with the Flynn meltdown?

      I think it makes our concerns over email seem a tad quaint. It makes me nostalgic for a time when that was the worst thing we had to worry about. Am I wrong to think so?…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “How do think her inexcusable carelessness in that situation compares to the “everybody-look-at-me-I’m-being-president” spectacle at Mar-a-Lago, combined with the Flynn meltdown?”

        First, I don’t know much about the “Flynn meltdown”. All I know is that he’s sort of in trouble for not telling Pence the whole truth about a conversation with a Russian ambassador, and there is something about the Obama AG holdover Yates, and others saying Flynn is capable of being blackmailed by the Russians. On Flynn, I’m really not sorry he’s gone. National security people have been complaining about him for awhile. Obama appointed his as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and then he sort of fell out of favor after he broke with the administration.

        Anyway, I’m not really sorry to see him out. I’d like to see someone like Gates in there, or at least someone not beholden to Trump.

        As for Hillary’s decision to have a private server vs. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago confab, they’re both dumb. Hillary’s sin was calculated deception in order to avoid public laws/oversight, while Trump’s sin was exhibitionism and not really giving a damn.

        So it’s calculated deception vs. unthinking dumb. In fact, that’s probably how I would sum up Hillary vs. Trump.

        I don’t think we can really speculate on what the ramifications of either of these are, given the nature of how the intelligence community works. Any intelligence gleaned by foreign actors won’t be trumpeted – it will just quietly be acted on because that’s the nature of the intelligence business.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, Gates would be wonderful. It would be, as I’ve written in the past about Gates, the return of the professional. And right now, there’s little our country needs more that professionalism. It would be like Whitehall bringing George Smiley out of retirement again.

          As for what will happen with “any intelligence gleaned by foreign actors,” I suspect the biggest thing they’ll get out of it is further incontrovertible proof that our current POTUS is an idiot and in security terms a nightmare — for us, not them. This will inform their dealings with this country, whether they be friend, for or in between. (Much as the belief that Reagan was crazy enough to launch a nuclear war informed Soviet thinking in the ’80s.)

          If they did get anything specific and actionable from such an incident (which I doubt, and hope I’m right), the wonderful thing is that they’d be free to act on it as they chose, because the way they got it was so in the open. No need to worry about compromising sources by using what they’d learned…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            The problems with incidents such as Mar-a-Lago is less what might have been revealed than the spectacle of such utter carelessness and lack of respect for national security.

            Imagine you work as a field officer in one of our intelligence agencies, and you see this in the news. To what extent are you going to take risks in the future, knowing that your product could be spread on a table in a public place with foreign visitors and who knows who else in the vicinity?

            As for the implications of the Flynn affair — there is SO much potential there, and so little we know at this point. By itself, you could think maybe it’s contained. But with all the huge unanswered questions about Trump’s own dealings with the Russians, much less those of others in his administration, not even the sky is the limit…

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          As for Hillary’s “calculated deception,” I always thought the best modifier was “Nixonian.” What she was displaying was a control fetish born of paranoia about her “enemies.” You know, the Vast Conspiracy.

          But hey, I’d give a lot to have Nixon back right now. An actual expert in policy who knew where all the levers and buttons were would be very reassuring.

          Do you follow @dick_nixon on Twitter? You should. It’s wonderful. It’s truly written in his voice, commenting on current affairs. Occasionally a Tweet is signed RZ, indicating that it’s Ron Ziegler’s voice rather than that of his boss.

          This morning, I was moved by such a Tweet to say:

          1. Doug Ross

            You can be a control freak and not be a liar. Hillary is both. Plus she married one and supported him throughout his lies.

  1. Bart

    Words fail me. Too bad a president cannot be recalled and the only recourse is impeachment. Even if this was not a serious matter, conducting affairs as serious as this one could potentially be out in the open with Abe and the staff, the president’s and Mar-A-Lago’s is inexcusable at all levels. This is beyond incompetence and outright belligerence defiance of all norms for presidential behavior.

    Trump fails on every level on what it means to be POTUS, every level. He is clueless, ignorant, and his actions fall well beyond any reasonable definition of moronic.

    Who knows. Maybe other countries will now place a moratorium on allowing citizens of the US to come to their countries. They may fear Trump supporters will slip past their immigration officials and infect their citizens with his brand of politics. Think about it. An immigration official in Britain asks the US citizen if he or she voted for Trump and they said yes. The official might tell them to go to the holding area until they can be placed on the next flight back to the US because they are not welcome.

    Don’t laugh, it could happen.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, absolutely. Our European allies had this problem before we did. We’re a bit late to the game. But when we caught up, we did it like “Gangbusters…”

        1. Bill

          Actually, while they may have had some of the politics, one thing they haven’t had as much of are the fringe radio and web-based shows like we have in the US. Until now.

  2. Mark Stewart

    Trump likes playing at President. He has no interest in actually being the President. It’s all just a lark to him.

    Republican Senators are going to have to face the hard truth that they are going to have to decide between party politics and defending the Constitution when they are called to preside over Trump’s impeachment trial.

    And now we know why the Acting AG went out and publically rebuked Trump – it wasn’t just the un-Constitutional Executive Order, it was also that the FBI believes that the the NSC was compromised by the Russians. Let’s let that sink in…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      “Trump likes playing at President. He has no interest in actually being the President. It’s all just a lark to him.”

      Yeah, you sort of want to sit him down, explain to him that this is an actual country — the most powerful one in the world — with actual people living in it, and he is the actual president of it.

      And when that doesn’t faze him, you want to slap him upside the head like they do in the movies, and HOPE he understands his role then and says “Thanks; I needed that.”

      He probably wouldn’t, but at least you would have gotten to slap him upside the head, so there’s that…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, but Johnny Fontane got it. I don’t think Trump ever would.

          He thinks he’s the old man, you see, but he’s not. He’s a Fredo who has somehow become a pezzonovante

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The more Trump voters try to brush off this crazy stuff, the more we know that they have no more of an idea of the responsibilities of the presidency that Trump himself does.

        This is the moment when people who tried to rationalize him (a different set of people from his fan base) really need to start sobering up…

          1. Doug Ross

            Nixon resigned. We survived. Clinton should have been impeached or resigned. We survived. Dick Cheney was the worst VP ever. We survived.

            Let me know when something actually happens.

            Anyway, when Trump goes, do we think the level of vitriol will be reduced? Nope. Democrat crybabies aren’t going to go away no matter what.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Bottom line, anyone who knew enough to be truly concerned about the security risk of Hillary’s emails has to be appalled by what we’re seeing here…

          1. Doug Ross

            For me it wasn’t about the private email server, it was the lies told repeatedly to cover it up. She is and has always been a liar.

          2. Doug Ross

            I’m going to blow Brad’s mind here, so stand back.

            Last week, on my 30 minute Uber drive to the airport in Pittsburgh, I had a nice conversation with my driver, an older man, probably around 70-75. He started telling me about his background. Retired Air Force, specialized in cryptography back in the 70’s. Said he had Top Secret clearance and had scored the highest on one of the Air Force aptitude tests that placed him in cryptography (his other option was described as “overseas engineer and you won’t get to speak to your family for several years”). We got on the topic of Snowden and I asked him what he thought should happen to him. He said “He should go to prison for 20 years.” Then he said “And the people who implemented the programs Snowden revealed should be in prison beside him”. He had nothing good to say about the current NSA. Finally, I had to ask him the burning question: “So, did you vote for Trump?” He replied, “Of course. He’s the only one who can get anything done.” Prepare yourself, Brad, here comes a trigger warning. Then he says “I voted for Kasich in the primary. I would never vote for Hillary. I was a Democrat until 2000 and then switched when Bill Clinton didn’t resign. That was the final straw for me”.

            It’s the weekly Uber rides chatting with the drivers that led me to believe Trump could win Pennsylvania and that’s what led me to the belief that his chance to win the Presidency wasn’t as farfetched as some might have thought.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Oh, I think there are a LOT of people who voted for Kasich or whomever (as did I), and then voted for Trump — or rather, against Hillary — in the fall. He couldn’t have won without MILLIONS of people like that.

              It’s not surprising. Some of them are people who just always vote Republican. (Which is why it drove me nuts when Bud and others would say they HOPED Trump got the nomination — I kept saying, Don’t you know that ANYONE who gets the nomination is then a biscuit toss from being elected? They start the general election contest with 40 percent, then ANYTHING can happen!) Others were people who just hated Hillary that much. Which was irrational (she’s far from lovable, but the degree to which she is hated is absurd), but there it is. She was the second-most-hated major-party nominee in history (Trump being the first).

              And you know, those are the very people I try to reach. Those people — and not the dyed-in-the-wool fans who think Trump is awesome — are the reachable people. Those are the people who will actually pay attention to the chaos this administration is producing, the security breaches, the destruction of relations with allies and cozying up to dictators, the lying on a level never before seen in politics, the personal obsessions with the trivial and profoundly childish self-centeredness (the size of his inauguration crowd, his daughter’s clothing line), the fact that he has a Rasputin in the White House who reflects some of the most extreme political ideas to be found in this nation…

              And eventually, those people who preferred Kasich to Trump will have had enough, and will want out of the deal. They will look to Pence as their deliverer.

              And THEN, as GOP members see that being reflected in their districts, talk about impeachment will get serious.

              And then we’ll have a chance of saving the nation from this abomination…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                So I love hearing about people like your driver. They’re the hope of the nation.

                Although we all have our quirks, and your guy’s is this: “the people who implemented the programs Snowden revealed should be in prison beside him.”

                That’s absurd. If he means the people who passed the legislation setting up the programs or the courts that held the law constitutional, well, we don’t put people in prison for having a different view of the national interest. And it’s MORE absurd if he’s talking about the government employees who set up the programs that the law required. That was their duty.

                Only in THAT part of your narrative did I hear something going on like this scene:

                1. Doug Ross

                  Brad – do you REALLY think any of our Congressmen know exactly what is going on in the NSA? Please. Democrats implemented Obamacare without reading the bill. You think they can understand the technical details behind any spying activity? Yeah, I bet Jim Clyburn is all over that cryptography and data mining.

              2. bud

                Since Trump really isn’t worse than other Republicans it really is the best strategy to vote for the most beatable. Almost worked out. The GOP is the problem, not Trump.

            2. bud

              Doug your anecdotal stories mean exactly zero to me, zip, nada, 0, nothing. Hillary Clinton got 2.9 million more votes than Trump. And she also got more votes in Pittsburgh. So are you just willfully ignoring Uber’s that are Hillary voters?

              1. bud

                And what’s more Trump is getting very little done so that faith in his ability to do so is rapidly proving a mirage.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  And of course, all numbers such as those can tell us is that most respondents don’t know squat. Which is unfortunate, because impeachment proceedings won’t start until GOP members see those numbers fall precipitately. And it’s ridiculous to wait around on something as critically important as that…

                2. Doug Ross

                  If the impeachment process were to start, what would be the specific charge? What has Trump done that is worse than having sex with an intern in the Oval Office? If that wasn’t enough to remove a President, nothing we’ve seen so far comes close.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    First, what Clinton did was definitely impeachable, even though many Democrats still deny it. Any boss who acts the way he did — particularly the lying about it — should be fired.

                    But what we’re learning about the administration’s (and earlier, the campaign’s) relationships with Russia are far more worrisome, because of their sweeping geopolitical implications. We still have a lot to learn about specifics, though, before we know what kinds of charges might be brought.

                    One of the problems, of course, is that an administration might pursue horribly ill-advised and dangerous foreign policy without committing a crime. Which is why, you know, it was extraordinarily irresponsible to vote for this guy to begin with…

              2. Doug Ross

                Hillary lost because she couldn’t win the areas around Pittsburgh. Areas Obama did win. She blew it with her foolish statements about killing coal jobs. Foolish and lazy is not a great message to send to hardworking people.

              3. Claus

                Those 2.9 million votes don’t mean anything, the only thing that is counted is electoral votes. I don’t know why it keeps being brought up. It’s like losing a football game but arguing that you had more first downs.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Seems to me that, by itself, almost equals the private email server.

      All this other stuff is just lagniappe, putting him WAY over the top in the competition for Biggest Security Risk Ever to Occupy the Oval Office…

  3. bud

    Dougs contined indifference is sort of like the guy who continues to drive a car with the check engine light on. When the actual emergency does hit the car is probably destroyed. I get that sometimes the overly strident national security types like Brad and Bryan over hype every conceivable issue. Remember the hysteria over the aircraft carriers a few weeks ago? Sheesh. But this stuff with the Russians really does seem different. My concern is that Trump is getting pointers about how to create a plutocracy. I say we don’t ignore the check engine light.

    1. Doug Ross

      Yeah, 90% of the time the check engine light is due to a loose gas cap. That’s about the level of concern I have now.

      Now I’m more concerned about the big jump in inflation last month (can’t blame that one on Trump). The next six months are the Obama economy.

      1. bud

        Inflation??? That is the most tiresome of all conservative nonsense. Serious inflation is another of those fear-mongering memes that we are continuously warned about and which never comes to pass.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            During Ford’s “W.I.N.” campaign, I saw exactly ONE person wearing one of the buttons. It was a doctor I went to see when I had a cold or something. I wanted to ask him, “Seriously? You think that’s helping? Or are you wearing it ironically?”

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Bud, this is really great news.

          Since inflation is just “conservative nonsense” we can stop with the whole taxation thing. Since inflation “never comes to pass” and debt isn’t a bad thing, let’s just stop taxing the citizenry, and let the Treasury Department print all the money the government needs to function. I mean, what’s the downside?

          The government can just print the money it needs for whatever we want. Why even bother with taxes?

    2. Claus

      Brad is discussing “stress dreams” in another topic. Both you and Brad are likely on the way to a heart attack stressing over things you have no control over.

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