This week, President Trump violated the Iran deal, and a CIA director was grilled under past involvement in torture. Meanwhile, Trump supporters were calling for him to win the Nobel Peace Prize. For more on this, it’s time for “A Closer Look.”Trump’s attempts at diplomacy with North Korea are a positive development. And if the North and South manage to broker a peace deal with Trump’s help, that would be historic. But now some people are taking it five steps further and insisting that Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, and he was asked about it yesterday at the White House. -Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it. You know what I want to do? I want to get it finished.
The prize I want is victory for the world. -Victory for the world? He doesn’t sound like a Nobel laureate. He sounds like a movie president fighting an alien invasion. “I want victory for the world against the space bugs, one of whom won’t leave me alone.” Shoo, space bug!” And, again, diplomacy with North Korea is good, but this is still the same guy who wanted to ban Muslims, called Mexicans rapists, said we should kill the families of terrorists, and said he wanted fewer immigrants from Africa and Haiti. If he won a Nobel, his speech would be the first in history with an NC-17 rating. But, okay, let’s hear budding Nobel laureate Donald Trump answer questions in detail about his upcoming summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. -Everything can be scuttled. Everything can be scuttled. Doesn’t mean — A lot of things can happen. A lot of good things can happen. A lot of bad things can happen.
-Wow. Soaring words. You get a more specific answer from Gmail’s auto-reply. Also, there’s a chance he doesn’t know what “scuttle” means. “Anything can be scuttled. Bananas.” “Sidewalks — you can scuttle them.” And on the same day Trump was asked about the Nobel Peace Prize, his nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was being grilled in the Senate over her role in the CIA’s torture program, including the time she ran a CIA black site in Thailand, where detainees were waterboarded in violation of U.S. and international law. Yesterday, Haspel was repeatedly pressed on whether torture was immoral, and she refused to answer the question. -Do you believe that the previous interrogation techniques were immoral? -Senator, I believe that CIA officers to whom you referred — -It’s a yes-or-no answer.
-Do you believe, in hindsight, that those techniques were immoral? -Senator, what I believe, sitting here today, is that I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to. -Can you please answer the question? -Senator, I think I’ve answered the question. -No, you’ve not. -I love — I love when they say, “I answered your question” as if it’s a Jedi mind trick. “These are not the answers you’re looking for.” In another revealing exchange, Haspel was pressed on whether she would follow an order from President Trump to illegally waterboard a detainee, and her immediate answer was not reassuring. -If the CIA has a high-value terrorism suspect in its custody, and the President gave you a direct order to waterboard that suspect, what would you do? -Senator, I would advise — I do not believe the President would ask me to do that. -First of all, moving forward, no one is allowed to say, “I do not believe the President would…” …followed by any terrible thing. If you don’t believe — If you don’t believe the President would shove a nun, you’re not trying hard enough to envision a situation where a nun would be in his way.
And second of all, did you miss this? -I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding. If I say, “Do it,” they’re gonna do it. That’s what leadership is all about. -No. “If I say, ‘Do it,’ they’re gonna do it” is not leadership. That’s the Westminster Dog Show. And now, to be fair to President Trump, President Obama also nominated a CIA Director, John Brennan, who was a defender of torture, so this isn’t unique to Trump. It’s something we all have to eventually reckon with. And while Trump’s nominee for CIA director was refusing to disavow her role in an illegal torture program, Trump was also busy violating the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump has long railed against the Iran deal, but he doesn’t actually have a coherent argument against it. All he does is mock the people who wrote it, like former Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry famously got in a cycling accident while he was negotiating the deal, and that’s apparently the one thing Trump knows about it, because he keeps mentioning it over and over, as he did yet again at an NRA conference last week. -The former administration… …as represented by John Kerry… Not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen. He never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. That’s the only… I said, “Don’t tell him you broke your leg. Just stay inside, say you don’t want to negotiate.
You’ll make a much better deal.” But he broke his leg. And I learned from that, at 73 years old, you never go into bicycle race. Okay, just don’t. -Yeah, I don’t think anyone was worried you’d get into a bicycle race. Mostly because they don’t allow golf carts. It is so, so Donald Trump that he keeps harping on Kerry breaking his leg. Trump is like the guy you went to high school with who never forgets your most embarrassing moment. You see him at a reunion and say, “Hey, there — Dale McCaffrey. I sat behind you in math.” “I remember when you crapped your pants at prom.” “Look, everyone — it’s Crappy Dale!” And Trump’s comments about Iran have been mostly incoherent, but his inner circle has been much clearer. They want regime change. For example, Trump’s newest lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who made that very clear over the weekend in a speech he gave to opponents of the Iranian regime. -We’ve got a president who’s tough, a president who doesn’t listen to the people who are naysayers, and a president that is as committed to regime change as we are.
-Why is the President’s lawyer giving foreign-policy speeches? The highest job he ever held was mayor. His idea of foreign policy was having lunch with the mayor of Hoboken. Also, if anyone should be worried about regime change, it’s Rudy Giuliani. Based on how things are going, I guess he has a week left in his job, tops. When he goes on Fox News, they should introduce him as the Season Finale of Rudy Giuliani. And Giuliani… Giuliani is not the only one of Trump’s associate’s who has openly called for regime change. Just take Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who said this just last year. -The declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the Mullah’s regime in Tehran. -Now I don’t know if Trump will actually listen to John Bolton, but there’s hope, because as you may recall, Trump was originally reluctant to hire Bolton, not because of his insane foreign-policy ideas but because of Bolton’s brush-like mustache, with one associate saying, “Donald was not going to like that mustache.” So if Trump is thinking of taking Bolton’s advice on Iran, I would just like to say, “Mr.
President, look at that mustache.” Can you really trust a guy with a mustache like that? He looks like evil Mark Twain. John Bolton is Dark Twain. He looks like he walked into a barbershop and said, “Give me half a Wilford Brimley.” So, Trump is surrounding himself with people who made clear they want regime change in Iran, which undercuts one of the central claims of Trump’s presidential campaign that he — he — was the anti-war candidate. As you might recall, he repeatedly went out of his way to claim, falsely, that he was opposed to the Iraq war, which he said, over and over again, was a disaster. -George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should’ve never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none, and they knew there were none.
Look at the mess we have. We’ve destabilized the Middle East, and it’s a mess. Had we not done anything, had our politicians gone to the beach and enjoyed the sun, we would be in a lot better position than we are right now. What we’ve done is incredible. If we would’ve — If our presidents would’ve just stayed home and gone to the beach or even gone out and played golf, every single day, played two rounds a day — okay? — which Obama almost does. -Obama played two rounds a day? Trump plays so much golf, I wouldn’t be surprised if he played during meetings. “Rudy, open wide. Hole in one. Hole in one.” And yet Trump and his allies are now repeating the same mistakes that got us into the Iraq war that he claimed to oppose. Last week, for example, the Trump administration issued a stunning warning, claiming that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear-weapons program.” Now the key word there is “has.” The Trump administration seemed to be saying that Iran currently has a secret ongoing nuclear program right now.
In other words, they’re saying Iran has WMDs. If that were true, it would be massive news. But it quickly turned out it was a mistake. -One single word in a White House statement set off a barrage of alarm and questions about Iran’s nuclear capability. The initial statement said that Iran “has” — present tense — a robust, clandestine nuclear-weapons program. An updated statement, sent a couple of hours later, read Iran “had” — past tense — such a program.
The White House claims that was a “clerical error.” -Wow, that is a hell of a typo. That’s like your doctor saying, “You have 40 days to live. Whoops! Sorry — years, 40 years.” So it was a one-letter typo, which is no small thing. If we’re not careful, we could end up invading Iraq again by accident. And something tells me the Trump tweet about that will be short.
Trump is repeating the same mistakes that got us into the Iraq war, and he’s being cheered on by many of the same people who orchestrated that war. In fact, the only lesson Trump seems to have learned is… -You never go into a bicycle race. -This has been “A Closer Look.”.
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