One month into President Donald Trump’s administration, the divide in his team’s approach to national security and foreign policy issues couldn’t be more clear. The Rachel Maddow blog laid out the ways in which the Trump team has adopted a “Never-Mind-What-Trump-Said” approach to both matters.
In his first address at the CIA headquarters nearly one month ago, Trump bemoaned the United States not taking oil in 2003 after invading Iraq under former President George W. Bush. “The old expression, to the victor belong the spoils. We should’ve kept the oil. But, okay, maybe we’ll have another chance,” Trump said in his speech.
The author of Maddow’s blog, Steve Benen noted how just a few days later, Trump, in an interview with ABC news made the same statement four times. “We should have taken the oil,” he said. On Presidents’ Day, now exactly one month into Trump’s presidency, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Iraq and said quite the opposite, telling reporters, “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.” This is what Benen refers to as the “Never-Mind-What-Trump-Said” policy.
Even between Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the same approach is clear. Pence has appeared at odds with Trump’s views on various issues, but has had to clean up the mess while taking a united approach. Last fall, it appeared the two were not on the same page on the matter of climate change, which Trump believes is not man-made, while his vice president took the opposite view, at that time.
Benen commented on Pence’s recent trip to Europe, where he was apparently sent to clear up any confusion between the U.S. and “worried allies.” The Washington Post reported, Pence met with allies to explain, “despite what his boss may say, the United States remains committed to the security of Europe and to the historic transatlantic partnership.”
The Post noted, “Although the vice president repeatedly stressed that he was speaking on behalf of President Trump, the two men indeed seemed as though they were separated by an ocean.”
These various actions that are meant to appear as a united front on behalf of the Trump team, as the president continues to maintain views that seem opposition to his team all contribute to the policy that Benen outlines. However, he writes, “The dirty little secret of the ‘Never-Mind-What-Trump-Said’ approach to foreign policy is that it’s not a sustainable foreign policy at all.”