Call your members of Congress (MoCs) and demand that they say OH HELL NO to Trump’s notion that maybe he’ll give former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, to Vladimir Putin for “questioning.”
Jesus Fucking Christ. Apparently we have reached the phase of the Trump presidency where we swear all the damn time. Ugh.
So, remember people observing what Trump said in public about the Helsinki meeting, and saying ‘Whoa, if this is what he’s saying in public, what the hell did those two talk about in private for two hours?’ We might be starting to get hints about that.
During the post-Helsinki press conference, Putin mentioned the notion of letting the U.S. question the 12 Russians we indicted on July 13, 2018 in exchange for letting Russian officials question Americans and America-affiliated folks who have annoyed Putin over the years.
He singled out by name Bill Browder, an American hedge fund manager who successfully persuaded the U.S. and several other countries to pass the Magnitsky Act, an anti-corruption measure which constrains Putin’s ability to grow and access his ill-gotten gains.
Browder is now a British citizen, so it would be hard for Trump to deliver him to Putin. Not so with Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama from 2012 to 2014. He annoyed the crap out of Putin by meeting with several of his Russian opponents and generally being in possession of a working spine.
Now understand this. Foreign leaders can make all the hare-brained, insulting requests they want of the U.S., and we’re sure there have been some doozies. It’s on the sitting administration and its staff to react appropriately, and know how to react appropriately.
The proper response to Putin’s request is ‘No, fuck you, no, and also, no, and seriously, did you get a hold of a bad batch of bathtub vodka? The fact that you’re actually asking for this makes us think there’s something wrong with your brain.’
But yesterday, during a press conference, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about this crazy notion, and gave an answer so wrong that it belongs in the Hall of Fame for Wrong Answers (maybe that should be the Hall of Infamy for wrong answers?).
We’re pulling this quote from a Politico piece that we’ll link below:
“He [Trump] said it [Putin’s quid pro quo interview idea] was an interesting idea. He didn’t commit to anything,” Sanders said at the daily press briefing. “He wants to work with his team and determine if there’s any validity that would be helpful to the process…It was an idea they threw out.”
Full Politico piece:
A complete and fully justified shitstorm followed. The White House should have thrown out the idea the Russians threw out, and done so with extreme prejudice.
But wait! It got worse! On July 18, 2018, the Russians made it clear that they wanted to interview former ambassador McFaul.
McFaul’s “crimes” are nothing more than pissing off Vladimir Putin. He pissed off Putin during the course of his duties as an ambassador, when he had diplomatic immunity.
Failing to bluntly and harshly dismiss the notion of giving an American ambassador to Russian prosecutors for “questioning” is deeply offensive and scary. Actually, those words aren’t quite up to the task of explaining how offensive and scary that is.
Spencer Ackerman did a better job of capturing that in his July 18, 2018 piece for The Daily Beast in which he quotes a sitting, anonymous U.S. diplomat as being “at a fucking loss” over the administration’s failure to defend sub-basic boundaries. The quote appeared in the story’s headline.
When diplomats are dropping F-bombs while speaking on the record to the press (albeit anonymously), things are bad. Defcon-level bad.
Full article is here:
Because this development is just that offensive and scary, here are a few more tweets from sober-minded folks who are full-throatedly sounding the alarm.
Tom Nichols, Republican and author of The Death of Expertise:
This is horrifying. There can be only one announcement: That Putin can go piss up a rope. The President must stand by – a former ambassador of the United States. This is not a partisan issue, this a threat against a fellow citizen from an enemy regime.
The *instant* answer should have been: “The President told Putin that he cannot deflect from his own corruption and abuses of his people by threatening US citizens, and that we will consider any further mention of as a threat to the safety of an American diplomat.”
No. You are not overreacting. The entire country should be aware of this. If Putin can single out , he can single out anyone. The President’s job is to protect us, not to even *consider* handing any of us over to an enemy government.
Trial lawyer Max Kennerly:
Republicans in Congress need to draw a red line for Trump by telling him that any degree of ‘cooperation’ with persecution of would be impeachable. This includes & . They would’ve said the same to Obama if he’d offered selling out an ambassador.
CNN commentator and conservative Amanda Carpenter:
Please imagine if Obama’s Press Sec said there would be an “announcement” about turning over a US Ambassador, that Russia despises, over to Russia for questioning. Republicans would be rightfully furious. This cannot stand. This isn’t a partisan issue. Support your countrymen.
Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a former national security advisor under President Obama tweeted:
Beyond outrageous. Amb. McFaul served our country honorably and with full diplomatic immunity. If the White House cannot defend and protect our diplomats, like our service members, they are serving a hostile foreign power not the American people.
And Jeb Bush, brother and son of past presidents and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, tweeted:
Not dismissing this absurd request out of hand is an extraordinary sign of weakness by an American president.
Want more? Check out #ProtectMcFaul on Twitter.
So! You won’t be surprised to learn that Celeste Pewter (@Celeste_pewter) got there first with a script about McFaul.
As always, first check your MoCs’ social media feeds and see if they’ve said something yet about this. If they have, it’s an expression of outrage and horror and a pledge to act–no one is defending this and no one would try, it’s that thoroughly bad. If they’ve said something, thank them.
Then carry on with the call, using this script as a jumping-off point.
Yes, we grant that McFaul is unlikely to be handed over to Putin. But this is the sort of madness that demands an instant, firm, loud, harsh, primal NO GODDAMNIT NO.
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