It should come as no surprise that the coronavirus continued to ravage the Sun Belt over the weekend. Case counts continued to soar and the United States experienced several days in a row of total cases higher than the East Coast peak from April. ICU beds are filling up in Arizona and Texas, and we know from experience that all of these cases will soon lead to a higher death count. Texas, which was among the first states to aggressively re-open, is paying a big price for their governor’s hubris. Representatives from the NIH and the CDC all recommend wearing masks, but Trump and Pence still refuse to advocate for them, seeing it as a sign of weakness and political correctness–a political lens that tragically colors everything they do.
Perhaps the most widespread and powerful response to Trumpian maskphobia came from actor George Takei on Twitter:
The fragility of folks who won’t wear a mask is truly breathtaking. I lived for four years inside two internment camps, and I heard less bitching and whining there than I do today.
The biggest new story of the weekend broke from the New York Times on Friday evening when they reported that Russia has been paying Taliban troops in Afghanistan to specifically target US and coalition troops. Furthermore, the Times reported that Trump was briefed about this Russian targeting months ago and apparently did nothing. In fact, Trump more recently tried to invite Putin and Russia back into the G7. The report created an immediate firestorm of criticism and condemnation that’s been burning all weekend.
Trump subsequently denied that he had been advised about Russian targeting but his denial strained credulity, especially from a pathological liar like Trump. Former officials from the Obama and Bush administrations said unequivocally that such an intelligence assessment would have been immediately brought to the president’s attention, and that it was simply not believable that this was not put in front of Trump. So one of three things is likely true.
- Trump was told and he chose to do nothing.
- Trump was presented with the information but he didn’t pay attention or didn’t register it.
- Trump was never given this information, even in a written memo or brief.
What follows are comments and observations from several political observers on Twitter that illuminate how disgraceful this situation is for Trump, his White House and the GOP.
Captain Mark Kelly, astronaut, Senate candidate in Arizona:
This report that the administration has had no response to Russia putting a bounty on the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan is just staggering. As a combat veteran, I can’t imagine how this could go without a response. We need answers.
Ben Rhodes, former Obama Deputy National Security Advisor
How would Fox, Lindsey Graham, and the GOP react if any other President knew for months that Russia was paying bounties on our troops, did literally nothing about it, praised Russia, invited Putin back to the G-7, and used our military for campaign photo ops? Vote them all out
Mark S. Zaid, a NatSec lawyer in DC:
The American people deserve to know when our President knew about this, or why he did not. Depending on the answer, the blood of these troops flows into the White House.
Lisa Page, NatSec lawyer and former federal prosecutor:
There are only 3 possibilities here: It was in the PDB or briefed to him but he didn’t bother to read or listen; the NSC/CIA deliberately kept it from him; or he knew and didn’t care because he wants to have a “good relationship” with a murderous autocrat.
Pick your poison.
Steve Schmidt, conservative political consultant
Putin put contracts on American soldiers. He paid bounties for dead American soldiers and Trump did nothing. This is a low moment unequaled in all of our history. This President won’t defend America. He is a grotesque and vile man. He is the weakest and worst President ever.
It was reported late last night that American soldiers were telling their superiors about the Russian payments and Taliban targeting as early as January, and there are at least a handful of American deaths that can be attributed to the Russian’s bounty.
The twitter hashtags “#TRE45ON” and “#TraitorTrump” were trending all weekend. So far there has been silence from Republican congressional reps. Every week brings a new low, a new scandal, a new outrage, a new debasement from Team Trump.
Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”
FYI – There will be a special City Council meeting TODAY in Poughkeepsie on policing reform and racial justice. Details below.