It’s not news that the Trump White House leaks like a sieve.
It is not (publicly) known who the leakers are. But it is often possible to infer why a given leak is leaked. Brother Scaramucci probably had it about right when he decried leakers who “think it is their job to save America from this president.”
And Trump gives us all so many reasons to want to save America from him.
But the particular leak yesterday of the transcript of Trump’s January conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seems to have a particular pointed message about the clear and present danger posed to all of us by Donald Trump being President of the United States.
In an article in New York Magazine (and highlighted here on BV in Lowell’s Friday news summary), Jonathan Chait calls attention to the truly dramatic cognitive defects displayed by Trump in the course of this conversation. As he writes, “By the time I was halfway through [the transcript], my brain could not stop screaming at Trump for his failure to understand what Turnbull was telling him.”
The conversation concerned a deal reached by President Obama to help out with some 1250 refugees that had reached Australia by boat. Australia has a policy, which Turnbull repeatedly tries to explain to Trump, of not accepting refugees that arrive by boat. The reason for the policy is that the Australians do not want to encourage people to risk unsafe passage and to deal with smugglers.
Turnbull’s repeated explanations prove futile, as do his efforts to indicate to Trump that these refugees are not bad people. “[T]he only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.”
But Trump remains unshakeable in his assumption that these refugees are criminals. “I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now”
But they are not criminals, and they are not “in prison.” But Trump proves himself incapable of hearing anything that Turnbull says. (I recommend the Chait piece in its entirety.)
Chait gives his article the title, “Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump is a Complete Idiot.”
But I think the leaker would have considered a more apt frame for the transcript he/she has given to the nation to be something more like, “It is Dangerous for America to have a President Who Cannot Understand Simple Things He’s Told.”
This transcript should indeed ring alarm bells across the nation.
It should be brought to the attention of all those officials who bear the responsibility to declare a president ” unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
But they, being the Vice President and Trump’s cabinet, are surely going to initiate nothing unless they are pushed. So this transcript needs to be brought to the attention of all the members of Congress, who might exert pressure to implement the 25th amendment.
But the Congress is controlled by the Republicans, who are surely not going to go in the direction of the 25th amendment unless the pressure to do so becomes irresistible. So they need to be buttonholed and pressed about this transcript — and its frightening implications — by the media.
But the media may be slow to recognize how stunning is the evidence of Trump’s cognitive incompetence demonstrated by this transcript. So they need to be pushed to look closely at what Trump’s conversation with the Australian Prime Minister so clearly shows about the president’s disability. And to keep that story alive.
Judging from this transcript, Trump’s cognitive incapacity may warrant as much attention as his criminality. Impeachment or the 25th: either way, it’s time to repeal and replace this dangerous man.
We’re talking about a position that has powers of war and peace, and thus life and death, commander-in-chief of the world’s mightiest nation in a dangerous world. How can it be allowed for that position to be filled with a man whose capacity for understanding what he is being told is apparently so pathologically low.
Bring on the 25th amendment.