Who cares about briefings? Trump wants the money
— The half of America that has not been bamboozled by Donald Trump’s promises to pull miracles out of his orange bouffant are puzzled by his refusal to attend national security briefings.
You’d think a 70-year-old man without government experience or knowledge of world affairs would be intrigued to learn the nation’s secrets and the rationales for its foreign policy decisions.
Soon, after all, President-elect Trump will be responsible for continuing those decisions or revoking them.
But instead of studying up, it’s clear he intends to rely on retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who will be national security adviser, typically the first aide to see the president in the morning and last to see him at night. Yes, the same general who retweeted fake news stories and long-debunked conspiracy theories and whose son went so far over the line doing the same thing that he was ousted this week from Trump’s transition team.
The elder Flynn has recirculated bogus, nonsensical accusations, such as Hillary Clinton being involved in child sex trafficking and secretly warring against the Catholic Church. By the way, the general does not need Senate confirmation.
When it comes to the vital post of secretary of state, Trump’s interviewing of candidates has been all over the map. Does he even know what he wants in such a diplomat? Trump seems to relish making people jump through hoops before humiliating them.
One thing the world does have more certainty over is that Trump broke with the decadesold One China policy by taking a phone call from Taiwan’s new president, infuriating China, which is likely to think twice before helping us contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Ditto Trump’s White House invitation to the Philippines’ president, who has insulted President Barack Obama and has ordered the killings of thousands of people in his homeland.
And the same again for making nice with Pakistan, a nuclear power that hid Osama bin Laden. Trump’s overture infuriated India, another nuclear power.
Is Trump planning megadeals with Taiwan? He has openly speculated about doing hotel deals there, and many fat-cat Republicans have been longing for normalized relations.
Russia? Trump still refuses to believe U.S. intelligence agencies that say Russia — in other words, Vladimir Putin — intentionally interfered in the election.
Just how many potential conflicts of interest are there?
Trump announced that Japan’s richest man will invest $50 billion in the United States, with much of the money actually coming from Saudi Arabia. It’s all about profit.
We taxpayers are paying Trump to sleep in his own bed at night. We pay for his office space. We pay for the fuel for his plane and his motorcades.
Dumping some stock was peanuts for him. What about his business empire? No matter what he says, money is his bottom line.
When Trump’s daughter Ivanka joined him for a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, she was also working out a lucrative deal for a new business in Japan.
That’s not to mention that Trump owes huge sums of money to the largest German bank and the Bank of China, both of which want favors.
Trump seems gleeful that U.S. allies are in panic mode trying to figure out what his intentions are.
Hurrah, shout his supporters, who think it’s fine for their populist idol to blow up years of carefully crafted American foreign policy.
We’re supposed to have one president at a time. Trump could at least wait until he’s inaugurated to throw bombs.
Trump also intends to cancel Boeing’s contract to plan the next Air Force One fleet, which would replace the two 26-year-old planes currently in use. He has a personal beef with Boeing, the only American manufacturer of large planes.
But he’s wrong that one plane will cost $4 billion. Each could end up costing $1.7 billion, but Air Force One planes aren’t ordinary. They contain all the state-ofthe-art technology that’s needed to protect the president wherever he travels around the globe. Besides, the new planes will take years to develop; Trump is unlikely to ever ride in one.
We also now know Trump wants to privatize government programs such as Medicare. Who would benefit? His rich friends?
Behind the Trump bluster is a shrewd businessman who will profit from the presidency even though that’s unconstitutional.
Fellow citizens, three words: Follow the money. And while you’re at it, be vigilant. Very vigilant.
A democracy can become an oligarchy in a flash. Ignoring intelligence briefings is a start.
Ann McFeatters is a columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.