Trump’s news con­fer­ence: More out­rages and lies

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Eu­gene Robin­son

— Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump — I can’t be­lieve I wrote those words — gave a news con­fer­ence Wednes­day. Shall we first count the out­rages or the lies?

I think we need to start at the top of the ou­trage col­umn. Asked about the hack­ing of Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee emails, which many ex­perts be­lieve was car­ried out by agents of the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, Trump spec­u­lated that Rus­sia might also have hacked into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server. Then he asked the Rus­sians to re­lease any deleted emails they might have found there.

Trump looked di­rectly into the tele­vi­sion cam­eras and said, “Rus­sia, if you’re lis­ten­ing, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are miss­ing. I think you will prob­a­bly be re­warded might­ily by our press.”

You read that right. The man one of our two ma­jor par­ties has nom­i­nated for pres­i­dent just en­cour­aged cy­beres­pi­onage by an ad­ver-

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sar­ial for­eign power against a for­mer U.S. sec­re­tary of state.

We’ve be­come al­most numb to Trump’s wild and ir­re­spon­si­ble dec­la­ra­tions be­cause there are so many of them. But this one, for me, was jaw­drop­ping. For­tu­nately, FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey said in his Capi­tol Hill tes­ti­mony that there is no ev­i­dence Clin­ton’s server was ever hacked by any­one.

There is plenty of ev­i­dence, how­ever, that Rus­sia is be­hind the DNC hack, ac­cord­ing to wide­spread news re­ports quot­ing U.S. cy­ber­se­cu­rity of­fi­cials. This did not seem to bother Trump in the least; nor did the re­lease of hacked emails em­bar­rass­ing to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee on the eve of the con­ven­tion. He rev­eled in the dis­clo­sures with undis­guised glee.

What’s the deal with Trump and the Russkies? He said he has never met Vladimir Putin, but once again he be­trayed his man-crush on the Rus­sian leader, say­ing he had bet­ter lead­er­ship qual­i­ties than Pres­i­dent Obama.

Trump de­nied he had busi­ness in­ter­ests in Rus­sia — though it is known that he earned mil­lions from stag­ing his Miss Uni­verse pageant there — and was vague about any pos­si­ble in­volve­ment Rus­sian oli­garchs might have in Trump-re­lated projects. Of course, it would be pos­si­ble to know a lot more if Trump would re­lease his tax re­turns, but he still won’t.

That’s the sec­ond ou­trage. All re­cent pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees have re­leased at least some tax re­turns — the ac­tual re­turns, not cob­bled-to­gether sum­maries. (Ge­orge W. Bush re­leased only his Form 1040.) Trump claims he can­not re­lease his be­cause he is be­ing au­dited. That’s ridicu­lous — there is no such pro­hi­bi­tion — and the real rea­son must be that he has some­thing to hide. This is a big is­sue, and it should be a big red flag for vot­ers in Novem­ber.

The third ou­trage is that Trump called Obama “the most ig­no­rant pres­i­dent in our his­tory.” Put aside, for a mo­ment, the de­grees from Columbia and Har­vard Law, the pres­i­dency of Har­vard Law Re­view, the two terms in the White House. Any­one who has ever heard Obama speak or spent five min­utes with the man knows that what­ever you might think of him, ig­no­rant he is not.

Name-call­ing by Trump is not ex­actly news. But this one stands out be­cause it shows such ut­ter lack of re­spect for the dig­nity of the high of­fice he seeks to hold. The words vul­gar and un­gra­cious come to mind.

As for the lies: He said that the Is­lamic State hasn’t been men­tioned at the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion; it has. He said there were no Amer­i­can flags on the con­ven­tion dais; there are. He said Putin called him a “ge­nius” (that bro­mance again); Putin said no such thing but did call Trump tal­ented. Trump men­tioned the Or­lando mas­sacre to jus­tify his pro­posed Mus­lim ban; the shooter was born in the United States. He claimed he had in­spired NATO to be­gin fo­cus­ing on ter­ror­ism; the al­liance was head­ing in that di­rec­tion long be­fore Trump opened his mouth.

I could go on, but why bother? Truth is ir­rel­e­vant to Trump. All he wanted to do is steal a few hours of me­dia at­ten­tion in the mid­dle of the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion. He got his wish — but thanks to his Rus­sia com­ments, it’s not the kind of at­ten­tion he wanted.

Eu­gene Robin­son is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact him at eu­gen­er­obin­son@wash­post. com.

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