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Trump Describes His Chaotic Decision-Making On Iran Airstrike

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In a new interview with Chuck Todd of NBC News, President Donald Trump gave extensive details about the process that led him to abort airstrikes against Iran that were on the brink of being launched Thursday night.

Reports broke late Thursday night that Trump has ordered the attack in response to Iran’s destruction of a U.S. drone on Wednesday. Those reports indicated that Trump had given the go-ahead for the attack, but then changed his mind. In the interview with Todd, Trump suggested he had never officially given the order to go ahead.

“Nothing is green-lighted until the very end, because things change,” Trump said. “But we had something ready to go, subject to my approval. And they came in, they came in about a half an hour before, they said ‘Sir, we’re about ready to go.’ I said, ‘I want a better definition…’”

“Planes in the air?” asked Todd.

“No, no, we’re about ready to go,” Trump said. “No, but they would have been pretty soon. And things would have happened to a point where you wouldn’t turn back or couldn’t turn back, so they came and they said, ‘Sir, we’re ready to go, we’d like your decision.’ I said, “I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed?’ In this case, Iranians. I said, ‘How many people are going to be killed?’ Uh, ‘Sir, I’d like to get back to you on that.’ Great people, these generals. They came back, said, ‘Sir, approximately 150.’ And I thought about it for a second, and I said, you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, a plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said, ‘Go ahead.’ And I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate.”

Now, since Trump is an unrepentant liar, it’s always important to treat his stories with high levels of skepticism. It’s hard to know how accurate this story is. And on the one hand, if it is relatively accurate, it shows welcome restraint and discretion from a president who genuinely does seem to want to avoid a disastrous war with Iran, despite his top advisers’ clear inclinations to escalate conflict.

But as national security lawyer Bradley Moss pointed out, the process Trump described sounds haphazard and reckless, leaving the ultimate momentous decision up to instinct or luck. So either Trump is overseeing an amazingly ill-conceived decision-making process, or he’s outright lying about a moment of global significance. Since the Pentagon is currently in transition between two unconfirmed acting secretaries of defense, and the country hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed defense secretary since the beginning of the year, it’s not hard to imagine that the military decision-making process is warped.

“That we were this close to the final ‘go order’ and Trump claims that he had never previously been told of an anticipated casualty figure reflects either a total breakdown in the briefing process or Trump is actively misleading people on what he knew and when,” Moss said on Twitter.

Watch the clip below:

SNL Cold Open Obliterates Graham, Collins, And McConnell

Staged as a parody of Meet The Press, this week’s SNL cold open is actually a shattering lampoon of leading Congressional Republicans. Bemused host Chuck Todd (Beck Bennett) questions Senators Mitch McConnell (a remarkably chinless Beck Bennett), Susan Collins (Cecily Strong), and “bad boy” Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon), trying to discover whether their abasement to Donald Trump has any limit.

In this sketch — and perhaps in real life — there is nothing Trump could do that would forfeit the support of these servile Republicans. But the script isn’t as devastating as the senatorial impressions. If you’re groveling Graham or pathetic Collins, it should be a little harder to show your face in public on Monday.

Here’s the video clip:

 

#EndorseThis: Senator Says Trump Insults Having Weird Effect On Congress

Happy Labor Day, National Memo readers. While #EndorseThis does its best to theme our clips to match whatever holiday is happening at the time, the news waits for no one. And there are bigger fish to fry than stories about people getting a much-deserved extra day off to start September.

Like Congress, for instance. In case anyone is curious about how the Senate is getting along while President Trump is in office, a Senator from Minnesota has the answer. In a word? Walking on eggshells.

In today’s clip, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is discussing John McCain’s funeral with Chuck Todd of NBC when the subject of Trump rears its ugly head. Klobuchar uses some surprisingly-salty language that will have you “laboring” to cover your kids’ ears.

Meet the unimpressed.

Chuck Todd Silent As Sen. John Cornyn Repeatedly Lies About Republican Bill Gutting Health Care

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd failed to correct or contextualize Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX) multiple misleading statements about the GOP Senate’s bill, which would cost millions of Americans their health insurance.

On July 13, Senate Republicans released a revised version of their bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act after the original version, which would have kicked 22 million Americans off of their health insurance, failed to secure enough votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the vote for the revised version, planned for this week, after Sen. John McCain recently underwent surgery, and two GOP senators have so far said they will not vote for the revised bill, leaving its future uncertain.

On July 16, Cornyn appeared on Meet the Press to make the case for the GOP bill and made statements misrepresenting the bill, the current insurance market under the Affordable Care Act, and Democrats’ alternatives to improve the insurance market — and Todd let him.

When asked by Todd near the beginning of the interview what it says about the bill that the vote is so close that they need McCain’s vote to move forward, Cornyn decried that the bill has “become a partisan issue,” stating, “our Democratic friends are refusing to lift a finger to help their burdened constituents who are being hurt.” But Cornyn’s protestation rings hollow given the unprecedented secret process Senate Republicans used to draft the bill, which barred any Democratic input. And the process was designed from the start to pass with only Republican votes through the budget reconciliation process, without help from Democrats.

Later, Cornyn claimed Republicans are “offering a better alternative” to the current health insurance market, bemoaning that “we know millions of people are seeing sky-high premiums, [and] unaffordable deductibles, and fleeing insurance markets.” Yet the CBO predicted that if the BCRA passes, premiums would rise until 2020, and only decline after that because the insurance plans would cover fewer services, and thus would be worth less. And the bill would cause deductibles to climb even higher — in some cases, up to 24 times higher.

At the end of the interview, Cornyn claimed Republicans are “willing to do what we can to shore up the system now, to stabilize it to make health care available to people now” and asserted that Democrats don’t want to make any changes. Cornyn’s first claim here is just ludicrous on its face; Republicans have spent years sabotaging the the Affordable Care Act, from ending risk corridor payments to insurance companies, to obstructing efforts by both states and the federal government to create the health insurance exchange marketplaces, and of course to some Republican-controlled states declining to participate in the Medicaid expansion and leaving many of their constituents uninsured. Insurers have even admitted that they are raising premiums and pulling out of exchanges because of the uncertainty in the market created by Republicans.

Democratic senators offered back in March to work with Republicans to fix problems with the insurance market if they agreed to drop their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And days ago, some House Democrats said they will introduce some fixes to the individual insurance market, which includes a reinsurance program to offset the costs of the sickest patients, removing uncertainty from the Trump administration’s threats to end some cost-sharing subsidies, moving the open enrollment season, and offering a Medicare buy-in for some older Americans.

Todd allowed Cornyn to make these statements without any pushback. Republicans have been repeatedly called out for their lies and deceptions regarding their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act — both by media outlets and even other Republicans. With the insurance coverage of millions at stake, interviewers like Chuck Todd must be better prepared to confront Republican lawmakers when they make their case with lies and misrepresentations.