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Trump battles NY Occasions on Afghanistan story, deletes inflammatory video

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The president’s first intuition, as at all times, was accountable the press.

When a harmful story emerged, Donald Trump mentioned he hadn’t been advised about it, and moreover, it was one other “phony hit job” by the New York Occasions, and the paper ought to title its unnamed sources which, he mentioned, have been most likely made up.

Trump went additional yesterday, calling the report “probably one other fabricated Russia Hoax, perhaps by the Faux Information New York Occasions, desirous to make Republicans look dangerous!!!”

A lot stays murky about what the president was or wasn’t advised about Russia and Afghanistan. However unnamed administration officers have since confirmed the heart of the story to the Wall Avenue Journal, Washington Put up, NBC, CNN and the AP, amongst others.

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The main points are surprising, even in a world the place we thought we may now not be shocked. As the Times originally reported, Russian army intelligence was providing bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American troopers and different coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The Occasions mentioned Trump had been briefed on the heinous apply, however the president and the White Home flatly denied that.

If they’re proper and the paper is improper, it raises an equally pressing query: Why would intelligence officers not inform the president of such an pressing discovering that threatened American lives?

Trump tweeted Sunday evening: “Intel simply reported to me that they didn’t discover this data credible, and due to this fact didn’t report it to me or @VP.”

One senior administration official advised the Occasions that Trump wasn’t briefed as a result of the intel businesses couldn’t come to a consensus. One other official mentioned there was broad settlement that the intel, primarily based partially on interrogations and surveillance, was correct however nonetheless some variations among the many businesses.

In its followup piece, the Occasions says “United States intelligence officers and Particular Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot,” and believed–as the Put up was first to report–that the bounties led to the killing of a minimum of one American soldier.

What’s extra, U.S. officers have been involved sufficient that they have been “sharing details about it with the British authorities, whose forces have been amongst these mentioned to have been focused.”

Kayleigh McEnany saved the concentrate on the Occasions yesterday, telling “Fox & Buddies” that “it’s really egregious when you have got nameless sources spewing out this data on the pages of the New York Occasions anonymously, giving them false data.” I perceive the frustration about leaks, which have plagued Trump from the start, however it’s laborious to concurrently argue that the data is each labeled and false.

Some Republicans, led by Liz Cheney, have joined Democrats in demanding to know why the president wasn’t briefed, if that’s the case.

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If the president wasn’t knowledgeable, that will be an enormous error by the Occasions. However on the identical time, loads of different officers would come beneath strain to clarify why such delicate wartime data wasn’t shared with the commander-in-chief.

What’s additionally lacking within the president’s response is any vow by the president to resolve this, and demand that Russia, which has denied the story, come clean with its position. This has allowed Trump’s critics to say that at backside he’s defending his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Evidently, I don’t assume Republicans can be so restrained had such explosive data surfaced in the course of the Obama administration.

Trump, in the meantime, has handed his media detractors a membership with which to beat him. He retweeted over the weekend a video of shouting Florida protesters that immediately created a firestorm.

A Trump supporter, in a golf cart bearing marketing campaign posters, was seen shouting “white energy” at anti-Trump demonstrators who have been cursing and calling the president a Nazi.

“Thanks to the good individuals of The Villages,” Trump wrote.

The video stayed up for a number of hours, even after Tim Scott, the lone black Republican senator, advised CNN that it was “indefensible” and that Trump ought to take it down.

The remaining performed out whereas “Media Buzz” was on the air. First the president deleted the tweet. Later within the hour, the White Home issued an announcement saying Trump “didn’t hear the one assertion made on the video.”

Whereas Trump’s most caustic critics accused him of supporting white supremacy, that is exactly the sort of conduct that’s driving his advisers nuts. Even some outstanding Republicans are saying he has to alter course or lose the election.

Trump shouldn’t be going to alter who he essentially is, however he may wish to cease handing ammunition to his enemies.

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