Is there a German phrase for “something that you pretty much already know but still manages to be shocking when you encounter it”? Because that’s what I experienced reading Carl Bernstein’s report on Trump’s telephone calls with foreign leaders.
In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials — including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff — that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations.
Paul Musgrave called Trump the “WYSIWYG president,” and the details about the calls, if true, underscore just how right he was.
By far the greatest number of Trump’s telephone discussions with an individual head of state were with Erdogan, who sometimes phoned the White House at least twice a week and was put through directly to the President on standing orders from Trump, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the President regularly bullied and demeaned the leaders of America’s principal allies, especially two women: telling Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom she was weak and lacked courage; and telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she was “stupid.”
Trump incessantly boasted to his fellow heads of state, including Saudi Arabia’s autocratic royal heir Mohammed bin Salman and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, about his own wealth, genius, “great” accomplishments as President, and the “idiocy” of his Oval Office predecessors, according to the sources.
Bernstein’s sources corroborate Bolton’s claim that autocratic leaders like Putin and Erdoğan found Trump easy to manipulate. But again, this was obvious. Multiple accounts suggest that Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria came after Erdoğan played him like a fiddle.
You should read the whole article because it is truly, truly horrifying.
And not just because of Trump.