President Donald Trump’s story about his decision to cancel planned airstrikes on Iran is not adding up.
Observers have noted that Trump’s claim to have stopped the airstrikes as the clock was ticking down — he claimed on Twitter that there were just 10 minutes left for him to make a decision — and that it was only then that he realized that there would be approximately 150 casualties from the strike. This, he said, would be a disproportionate response to Iran’s downing of an unmanned drone.
Fox News’ Shep Smith noted, “Something is wrong here.” The network’s reporting suggested that Trump should already have been aware of the possible casualties, as common sense would suggest, far earlier than 10 minutes before the launch. National Security lawyer Bradley Moss argued that, if true, Trump’s account shows a “total breakdown in process.”
And contrary to Trump’s claims, the New York Times reported Thursday that planes were already in the sky to carry out the military operation and ships were in place when the order was withdrawn.
Finally, the Washington Post published a report Friday that said officials in the administration are disputing Trump’s public account.
Early in the day, the president said he called off the counterattack at the last minute because it would kill 150 people in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned surveillance drone. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” he tweeted.
But administration officials said Trump was told earlier Thursday how many casualties could occur if a strike on Iran was carried out, and that he had given the green light to prepare for the operation Thursday morning.
Trump’s morning tweets appeared to gloss over the fact that he was the one, as commander in chief, who had ordered the retaliation against Iran in the first place.
Trump administration officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security decisions, said the president approved the strikes after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps earlier in the day shot down the Navy RQ-4 Global Hawk, a move Trump described as a “very big mistake.”
But he later changed his mind, the officials said.
So it seems there’s good reason to think Trump isn’t being straightforward about what happened. The question is: Why won’t he tell the truth?
A telling moment from the impeachment hearing suggests Trump has an insurance policy on Mike Pence
Why don't Republicans just give up and cut Donald Trump loose? That question has been on the minds of most political observers since the beginning of Trump's presidency, and it's only grown more intense in the wake of scandal after scandal after scandal, in which the lying, cheating, grifting, thieving sleazebag who bigoted his way into the White House continues to make fools of everyone who supports and defends him.
How can honest people possibly be bored by impeachment hearings?
Some of you know I used to teach a course at Yale on the history of presidential campaign reporting. My students read classics like The Making of the President (the 1960 election), Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972), What It Takes (1988), and McCain’s Promise (2000, based on David Foster Wallace’s long essay “Up, Simba”).
For background, I read other books, like Game Change (2008), Double Down (2012) and even 08 (a graphic novel rendering of Michael Crowley’s trail diary). When reading the books as a canon, one thing I noticed—actually, I could hardly avoid noticing—is that campaign coverage increasingly became writing about campaign coverage itself.
House impeachment inquiry may help restore the political and social norms that Trump flouts
President Donald Trump regularly uses blatant violations of long-established social and political norms to signal his “authenticity” to supporters.
Asking foreign countries to investigate and deliver dirt on his political opponents, which prompted an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives, is the most recent example in a long string of norm-shattering behaviors. Other examples of flouting the standards of his presidential office include defending white nationalists, attacking prisoners of war, abusing the use of emergency powers, personally criticizing federal judges and much more.