Who cares about brief­ings? Trump wants the money

Cecil Whig - - A••END A FREE - Ann McFeatte

WASH­ING­TON

— 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 am­cfeat­ters@na­tion­al­press.com.

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