Monday, March 6, 2017

Meet the Press

Lately I have taken to watching "Meet the Press," which airs at 10AM on Sundays. I guess it's been several weeks, certainly since the Inauguration.  I wanted to see the characters in this ongoing drama, and to hear what they had to say.  More on some of them another time.

Yesterday morning, two of the persons interviewed were Schumer, the Democratic Senate Minority leader, and Rubio, the Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Also interviewed was James Clapper, the head of Intelligence under Obama, now retired:

The topic was Trump's tweets accusing Obama of having his ( Trump's) building/offices/residence  in New York  bugged in the weeks before the Inauguration.
The Obama spokesman has denied it, and Mr. Clapper, a veteran intelligence officer, denied it .
I want to cut and paste part of the discussion among the members of the press about this issue.
This is part of the transcript of the show.  I zeroed in on the remarks of Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. I have been reading his essays and articles for many years and think he is very insightful.
Here it goes:

Chuck Todd:

Welcome back. Panelists here: Democrat pollster Cornell Belcher, he's author of the book A Black Man in the White House, Kim Strassel, columnist and member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, Danielle Pletka of The American Enterprise Institute, and Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times. At some point, I don't know where to begin here, but Tom Friedman, it is, it was jarring, President Trump accusing President Obama. And obviously, I guess it was an attempt to distract? But I don't see how this distracts from the Russia story.


Thomas Friedman:

Well, it was beyond jarring, really, when you think about it, Chuck. This is such a serious charge. Under normal circumstances, it would be a six-column headline in my paper and I think every other paper. And a serious person, before he made such a charge, would have brought together the Congressional leaders, briefed them on it, brought together the intelligence community, and given the public evidence.

The fact that he just lobbed this out there on Twitter at six in the morning is shocking. I think we have to keep one thing in mind, though, the big picture. The big picture, Chuck, is Russia is not our friend. Vladimir Putin is not our friend. He has some very specific goals. He wants to fracture N.A.T.O.. He wants to fracture the European Union, fracture N.A.T.O. so it will not be a military threat, fracture the European Union so it won't be a counter-example for Russians. And he wants to destroy the ability of the United States to lead a Western Alliance. Right now in Moscow, they must be clinking vodka glasses. Because for less than the cost of a MiG-29, they have thrown the West into complete disarray.

A little later in this first segment:


--some of us in the press. But my point here, what worries me, Chuck, is this. Government moves at the speed of trust. And right now, there is, like, so little trust. We have a completely polarized environment. And somehow we have got to restore that. Because I don't see how the president's going to be able to solve any of these big issues: Immigration, debt, health care, at the level of polarization we have right now.


It is-- I think we've exemplified it here a little bit. We're going to pause the conversation and pick it up, I have a feeling, on the other side of the half hour. But coming up is a man who may know more than anyone about Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. It's the former Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper. He joins me next.


Then Jim Clapper came on.

Then, in the next segment:



Back now with the panel, and we have been going over the Jim Clapper interview just now. And here's the specific transcript for everybody here on the FISA court order. I asked him, at this point can you confirm or deny if this FISA court order exists. He says I can deny it. "There is no FISA court order?" I follow up. Clapper: "Not to my knowledge." "Of anything at Trump Tower?" "No." How big of a deal?


Well, I think him denying that there was a FISA order is a big deal. But why are we talking about this? We're talking about this because Donald Trump tweeted it out, in pretty much the same breath that he tweeted about Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Which by the way-- I know, I know. Say no more.


Don't let us get distracted by that as well. But I have to ask myself, would we be talking about this at all if he hadn't tweeted that out?


Well we'd be talking about the Russia angle itself.

DANIELLE PLETKA:Wouldn't we be talking about Sessions?


Right. But he actually, he made two pieces of news I think here this morning. Not just he said that there was no court order, and assuming he just wasn't being careful with his words, it sounded fairly categorical to me. But the other one was that there is simply no evidence of collusion, at least while he was there, which was until very recently between the Trump campaign and the Russians.


You know, Chuck--



So what have we been talking about for the last three weeks?



This is -- waking up at 6 AM in the morning, tweeting out one of the most damning accusations one president could make after another, and then, as Dany said, then talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger, that is not—


And he did 18 holes.


--non-presidential behavior. That is not adult behavior. That is juvenile behavior. And the fact that we have a president who engages in that is, to me, deeply disturbing. Because think about this. Now he's going to have to go to Europe very soon and interact with other European leaders, other world leaders. What would you think if you're a world leader going into a meeting with the-- "What do I say to this guy? What might he say about this meeting?"

He is everywhere we look. And we talked about this before. I quoted my friend, Dov Seidman, who makes the point there's a big difference between formal authority and moral authority. This president has formal authority. But every day you see him eroding his moral authority. And in the end, that is really going to hurt us.


So... Friedman voices what I have been disturbed by and worried about.
What is going to happen next?
I know that Trump's  "base" of followers don't believe any of this; they believe everything he says.
Will that ever change?

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