Day 172: The Trump Team is Very, Very Dumb

Incompetence surrounded by stupidity is causing Donald Trump’s narratives to collapse at every turn.

The level of incompetence across the Donald Trump team often defies comprehension. One would be hard-pressed to put together a group of individuals so ill-equipped at handling their jobs, but here we are. It’s been a rough week for the group.

Donald Trump Jr.:

They really broke the mold with Junior. First, he claimed he met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 at the request of a mutual friend and all they discussed was an adoption program between the U.S. and Russia and no campaign issues were discussed. Then, busted by The New York Times the next day, Junior admitted the pretense for the meeting is that the lawyer had dirt on Hillary Clinton that the Trump team would find useful. He found the lead so appealing he dragged brother-in-law Jared “Kush” Kushner and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort to the meeting with him.

Here’s his statement in full:

After Junior became aware of the “true agenda” — allegedly, the adoption program — he interrupted her and ended the meeting. Again, he’s admitting that the sole reason he met with this woman — a KGB-connected Russian lawyer — is because of the allegedly damaging intelligence she had on Clinton: “the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.” In other words, that’s why he showed up.

Now, even taking Junior’s word at face value that he didn’t know who the woman was ahead of time, he sat there for “20 to 30 minutes” and didn’t disclose the meeting to the FBI or other law enforcement immediately afterwards or when he found out who she was.

He has potentially admitted to treason in a thought-out, edited, prepared statement. He has certainly admitted to collusion between agents of the Russian government and agents of the Republican nominee to harm the Democratic nominee. This is breathtaking stupidity, rarely seen in lawyered-up, 21st century America.

Furthermore, he also managed to undercut scores of White House denials about Russian contacts.

But the information isn’t just troubling because it suggests the Trump campaign sought out the help of Russians to win the presidency. It also contradicts a number of claims made by the White House, the campaign and Trump Jr. himself — claims made as recently as this weekend. For an administration and campaign that have repeatedly denied contact with Russians and had their denials blow up in their faces, it’s yet another dubious chapter.

Jared “Kush” Kushner:

To work in the federal government, Kush had to submit an SF-86 form. The form, in part, asks to disclose all contacts with foreign governments or foreign officials. Now we know that Kush met with dozens of foreign officials prior to Trump’s inauguration, including the one acknowledge by Junior in June 2016.

He didn’t disclose many (if any) of those meetings, including the June 2016 one.

The penalty for lying or knowingly omitting key information on an SF-86 is perjury, a felony.

To think that a thorough background check by the FBI would turn up none of these meetings is foolish. His lawyers have claimed that the form was merely submitted “prematurely” but that is a dubious claim.

Steve Mnuchin:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin went on television and praised the genius of a Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin partnership on combating cybersecurity.

He actually looked into the camera and said the words: “…what we want to make sure is that we coordinate with Russia…” He then compared the would-be tag team partnership as akin to military exercises and called it a “very significant accomplishment” for Trump.

Well, just hours later, Trump tweeted:

Mnuchin defended a “significant accomplishment” that Trump confirmed just hours later can’t happen.

The lack of uniformity in statements by the Trump team is legitimately impressive.

Mike Pence:

For some reason, there’s been a narrative among some on the right that any collusion between Team Trump would have been without Mike Pence’s knowledge. That seems extremely far-fetched.

Bizarre rumors, huh? The June 2016 meeting alone debunks this Pence falsehood. In the clip above, he doesn’t say “I have no knowledge of such meetings,” he just says, “Of course not.”

Again, it wasn’t a one-off meeting by Trump’s son in June 2016 that was done in complete secrecy. Trump’s son-in-law (both then and now a key adviser) and Trump’s then-campaign manager were also in attendance. Regarding Kush, here’s how The New Yorker described him in August 2016:

Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, a thirty-five-year-old real-estate developer, who owns the New York Observer, has become what the Times described as Trump’s “de facto campaign manager.” He has acted as a liaison with dozens of influential figures, including Henry Kissinger, Paul Ryan, Rupert Murdoch, and, until recently, Roger Ailes. Ivanka has counselled Trump on his rhetoric and his policy choices, and Jared was instrumental in the running-mate selection.

De facto campaign manager. Liaison with dozens of influential figures. Instrumental in the running-mate selection.

Kush and Pence are tied at the hip. It is logical that Pence would not have known about the June 2016 meeting and/or other meetings of this ilk.

Rick Perry:

Rick Perry “earned” a 2.13 GPA at Texas A&M University, including a D in a class entitled “Meats.” (Yes, really.)

That didn’t stop the Energy Secretary from trying to educate coal miners about a little thing called economics.

Yeah, it doesn’t really work like that. At all.

Adele Morris, policy director for Climate and Energy Economics at the Brookings Institution, said Perry’s words “really don’t make any sense.”

“What he seems to be suggesting was that if suppliers supplied more, then people would demand more,” she said. “Well, suppliers don’t control demand, they control supply.”

There is no debate among economists about the law of supply and demand, said Morris, a former senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress.

Imagine creating an infinite supply of trash. Does the demand for trash go up?

Reminder: Perry is somehow in charge of overseeing the management and handling of the U.S.’s nuclear material.

Rex Tillerson:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the only other American (besides a translator) in the room when Trump met with Putin at the G20 summit this weekend.

Tillerson claimed that sanctions were discussed between the nations.

Trump told Putin that members of Congress were pushing for additional sanctions against Russia over the election issue, Tillerson said. “But the two presidents, I think, rightly focused on: How do we move forward?” he added.

But:

So Tillerson either blatantly lied or continues to work for a man who undercuts him at every possible turn.

Donald Trump:

Trump’s previous follies are well documented. Here’s a taste of what the D-man has posted this morning:

On Ivanka taking his seat at the G20 summit:

  1. No one would’ve said that.
  2. Never get into an argument — especially in public — with someone smarter than you:

More on Ivanka taking his seat:

  1. It’s not very standard. It’s highly irregular, actually, especially with Mnuchin and Tillerson at the summit.
  2. You can’t call the German chancellor “Angela M.”

On former FBI Director James Comey’s memorandum provided to The New York Times:

  1. The information wasn’t classified.
  2. The meeting from which the information came wasn’t classified, therefore the information stemming from it wasn’t classified.
  3. Even if Trump wants to argue the information and meeting were classified at one time, Trump declassified it by openly talking about it in the media and on Twitter.

All of this came after yesterday’s gem…

…that drew harsh derision, even from his own party (except Mnuchin, of course).

172 days in, 1290 to go

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TrumpTimer watches, tracks and reports about Donald Trump and his administration’s policies every day. TrumpTimer is also counting down until January 20, 2021.