Trump should re­al­ize dis­loy­alty begets dis­loy­alty

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Jennifer Rubin

In case any­one had for­got­ten, Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s New York Times block­buster in­ter­view re­minded us that he is bereft of loy­alty, the glue that holds po­lit­i­cal par­ties, al­liances and ad­min­is­tra­tions to­gether. He re­bukes his at­tor­ney gen­eral for dar­ing to re­cuse him­self from the Rus­sia mat­ter as was re­quired un­der gov­ern­ment ethics rules — even in light of Jeff Ses­sions’ sub­se­quent agree­ment to par­tic­i­pate in the fir­ing of FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey.

Trump’s churl­ish­ness is par for the course.

Re­mem­ber, Trump sum­moned his po­lit­i­cal at­tack dogs to go af­ter sen­a­tors who op­posed his in­co­her­ent health-care plan. “Jok­ing” for the cam­eras, he seemed to threaten one of the most vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans. He pointed to Sen. Dean Heller, RNev.: “This was the one we were wor­ried about. You weren’t there. But you’re gonna be. You’re gonna be.”

He con­tin­ued, “Look, he wants to re­main a sen­a­tor, doesn’t he? And I think the peo­ple of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re gonna ap­pre­ci­ate what you hope­fully will do. Any sen­a­tor who votes against start­ing de­bate is re­ally telling Amer­ica that you’re fine with Oba­macare.” Nice Se­nate seat you’ve got there. Shame if any­thing hap­pened to it.

Again and again, Trump has un­der­mined U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies as part of his ef­fort to deny that he was the ben­e­fi­ciary of help from the Rus­sians in the 2016 elec­tion. He’s more than will­ing to take Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own ap­pointees and the pro­fes­sion­als through­out the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

Trump’s en­demic dis­loy­alty shouldn’t sur­prise us. For a world-class nar­cis­sist, other peo­ple are means to an end; when they are not help­ful — or worse, dis­agree or chal­lenge you – past ser­vice counts for noth­ing. But this is what makes his de­fense of for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn so weird. Since when does Trump ever go out of his way to de­fend un­der­lings past or present? Surely, he must be­lieve that Flynn — like Putin — can do some­thing for him or bol­ster his stand­ing in some fash­ion.

Dis­loy­alty comes with risks, how­ever. Ses­sions for now re­mains on the job, but what hap­pens when he is ques­tioned by the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor? And dis­loy­alty to one ad­viser, es­pe­cially one as de­voted as Ses­sions, sends a sig­nal to oth­ers.

An Associated Press story mak­ing clear that na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser H.R. McMaster has dis­agreed with Trump on many as­pects of Rus­sia pol­icy re­veals that McMaster is done spin­ning for Trump, as he did when he de­fended Trump’s de­ci­sion to share code-word in­tel­li­gence with Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov. McMaster al­lies ap­par­ently want oth­ers to know Trump’s Putin courtship does not have McMaster’s back­ing:

“McMaster ex­pressed his dis­ap­proval of Trump’s course to for­eign of­fi­cials dur­ing the leadup to his trip to Ger­many. The gen­eral specif­i­cally said he’d dis­agreed with Trump’s de­ci­sion to hold an Oval Of­fice meet­ing in May with top Rus­sian diplo­mats and with the pres­i­dent’s gen­eral re­luc­tance to speak out against Rus­sian ag­gres­sion in Europe, ac­cord­ing to the three for­eign of­fi­cials.

“McMaster and other na­tional se­cu­rity aides also ad­vised the pres­i­dent against hold­ing an of­fi­cial bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Putin.

“In a highly un­usual move, McMaster did not at­tend the bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Putin. Only Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tiller­son and a trans­la­tor made up the U.S. side.”

That’s a pretty bold ef­fort to dis­as­so­ci­ate McMaster (not my idea!) from Trump’s Rus­sia in­fat­u­a­tion, a way to pro­tect McMaster’s rep­u­ta­tion at the ex­pense of the pres­i­dent. Not very loyal, but then loy­alty has to be earned. McMaster and oth­ers should have learned by now that it’s every man for him­self in this ad­min­is­tra­tion. De­fend­ing Trump car­ries the risk of per­sonal em­bar­rass­ment or even a visit from the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor. Mac Tully, CEO and Pub­lisher; Justin Mock, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Fi­nance and Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer; Bill Reynolds, Se­nior VP, Cir­cu­la­tion and Pro­duc­tion; Judi Pat­ter­son, Vice Pres­i­dent, Hu­man Re­sources; Bob Kin­ney, Vice Pres­i­dent, In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy

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