Donald Trump’s silence over the Russian scheme to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan hasn’t been getting much press, displaced from the headlines by Trump’s own schemes for killing wholesale volumes of American civilians in America. But never let it be said that Trump can’t multitask. Trump can hate everyone who tries to inject any semblance of reality into the nation’s planning for the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump can hate everyone who spilled the beans on how he kept chatting up Vladimir Putin months after he was aware that Putin had put contracts on Americans.
As Politico reports, Trump is engaged in an internal investigation to locate and punish the people who let slip both the knowledge of Russia’s efforts to buy American deaths in Afghanistan, and the people who keep making it clear that Trump knew about the scheme for over a year. But this is just the latest in Trump’s long line of efforts to determine who stole the strawberries. And just as likely to succeed.
Whistleblowers of any sort have long been on Trump’s naughty list. His own twisted sense of morality requires that personal loyalty to Trump trumps all other concerns—even when Trump is in the midst of plans that could harm large numbers of people or the nation. Even when he’s doing something purely illegal. Trump made it clear that he was perfectly willing to breech both the spirit and the letter of whistleblower protection laws during his impeachment (Reminder: Donald Trump was impeached!) and the purge of inspectors general shows that Trump is out to get the tattletales, no matter where they live. Who watches the watchmen? No one, as far as Trump is concerned.
Trump is still engaged in announced investigations of who posted an anonymous op-ed back in September of 2018 that said, among other things, “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” And Trump is still looking for the person who distributed internal schedules in 2019 showing that Trump spent well over half his time either thumbing buttons on Twitter, or appreciating the softness of the Charmin, in unstructured “executive time.”
And now even more of Trump’s White House is involved in investigating those scoundrels at … Trump’s White House, this time in an effort to catch whoever let slip the Russian bounty scheme, and then kept making if obvious that Trump knew. Because he did. As a quick reminder:
- Trump was personally briefed on the Russian operation by John Bolton over a year ago.
- Trump received updates on the scheme at multiple points, including a February 27 daily brief.
- Trump has called Putin at least five times since March, with the content of those phone calls unknown.
- Trump has made repeated demands, despite knowing that Russia was both conducting a proxy war against American forces and engaged in an effort to thwart peace negotiations in Afghanistan, to have Russia readmitted to the G7, and threatened to invite Putin personally if other nations did not agree.
Amusing as it may be to see how much effort Trump puts into chasing his own tail, it’s even more frustrating that all of these whistleblowers are content to remain whistleblowers. Again and again, members of Trump’s staff have spoken up to denounce his policies after they’ve been removed from office—and often after they’ve secured a book contract so they can collect a check for describing just how dysfunctional things are within Trump’s regime. But none of them seem to be willing to step forward openly and immediately when seeing Trump engaged in behavior harmful to the nation.
There should always be whistleblower protections, and the information brought forward by these women and men is invaluable. But the fear with which insiders continue to regard Trump is frustrating specifically because Trump mistakes that fear for respect.