Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s much-marketed speech in Cairo was rich in straw man fallacies while short on substantive specifics, a speech bursting with contradictions that reminded me just how hard it must be to speak for a president who has, at best, an incoherent foreign policy.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s much-marketed speech in Cairo was rich in straw man fallacies while short on substantive specifics, a speech bursting with contradictions that reminded me just how hard it must be to speak for a president who has, at best, an incoherent foreign policy. Pompeo’s speech appeared to have three intended audiences, none of which was actually present in the American University in Cairo auditorium: the Oval Office; the Saudi royal court; and President Trump’s political base, which hungers for ABO (“Anything but Obama”), however inaccurate.
Tuesday’s judicial bombshells will scramble political calculations not just in the United States, but in capitals around the world. In the span of a few hours, we witnessed first the conviction of Donald Trump’s campaign manager and longtime associate Paul Manafort on eight charges of tax evasion and bank fraud in connection to his work for a pro-Putin Ukrainian strongman. Then we saw the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen plead guilty to campaign finance violations and say that Trump had directed him to pay hush money to two women during the 2016 campaign to stop them from speaking out about affairs they said they’d had with him.
The trial of Paul Manafort has begun. The first of 35 federal grand-jury targets to face allegations in court, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager stands accused of more than 30 criminal counts in a Virginia federal court. The granularity of the charges might lead us to believe it’s a trial about tax evasion, or the failure to comply with arcane regulations covering registration as a foreign agent, or money laundering to hide the resources required for the lavish lifestyle, the expensive rugs and bespoke suits to which Manafort became accustomed. It isn’t.
After Donald Trump appeared to side with Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, Congressional Republicans finally spoke out. Days later, with even senior Republican senators apparently eager to accept Trump’s claim that he misspoke after his Helsinki meeting with the Russian leader, that initial forceful response has devolved into the foreign policy equivalent of the “thoughts and prayers” offered after school shootings. But Congress need not just be a spectator, cheering or heckling from the stands.