It’s Getting Harder to Dismiss This as Incompetence

Donald Trump’s aides are suppressing critical reports and asking for investigations into ties with Russia to be kept quiet.

American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24
American president Donald Trump makes an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 24 (Michael Vadon)

Two weeks ago, I cautioned against attributing to malice that which can be adequately explained by the Trump Administration’s incompetence.

Here are just some of the things that have happened since then:

  • CNN has reported that the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, asked the FBI to knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s team and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, a request that may have violated the law and that was rejected by the FBI.
  • The Washington Post has reported that Trump’s staff also asked the Republican chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees to dispute stories about the new administration’s ties to Russia. They did agree; the very people who are supposed to be investing this!
  • The Associated Press has reported that the administration tried to suppress a Department of Homeland Security study which found no evidence that citizens of the seven Muslim countries targeted by Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States. The administration then ordered the intelligence services to produce a new report that does support its claims.
  • The Huffington Post has reported that the president was not present in the Situation Room of the White House when Navy SEALs found themselves under unexpectedly heavy fire in a remote Yemeni village last month. One of the SEALs was killed in this first military operation directly ordered by Trump, yet the president’s Twitter account was busy at the time promoting an interview. (It’s unclear if the president wrote the tweet himself and his aides aren’t telling.)
  • Politico has reported that six White House staffers were fired earlier this month after failing to pass FBI background checks. Robin Townley, a top aide to Trump’s first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was earlier denied a security clearance by the CIA, preventing him from joining the National Security Council.

It’s getting harder to dismiss this as nothing more than incompetence.

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