(CNN)Two key stories in this week’s headlines — the resurgence of coronavirus and the Russian bounties on US forces in Afghanistan — suggest that President Donald Trump does not think his portfolio includes actively working to protect as many American lives as possible.
Excuses will be offered. Justifications will be made. But Americans who should not be dying are dying.
Trump has taken a more active public role in recent weeks protecting statues of long-dead Confederate generals than either trying to stop the spread of Covid-19, which is clearly exploding around the country after he encouraged states to reopen early, or getting to the bottom of attacks on US service members paid for by Russia.
Russian bounties on US troops: Reports that Russians may have placed bounties on US forces in Afghanistan have been met with a shrug by the White House.
The reports are unverified.
The President was not briefed.
“Rogue intelligence officers” are out to embarrass the President.
CNN and others have reported that Trump did have access to the information in a classified briefing he notoriously doesn’t read. (White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday pushed back against the idea that Trump doesn’t read his briefing, telling reporters “the President does read.”)
Anything with regard to Russia is complicated by his friendly attitude toward Russian President Vladimir Putin has had everyone from his former FBI director to the speaker of the House wondering if Vladimir Putin has something over Trump. And CNN’s Stephen Collinson points out that Trump has seemed to use kid gloves with regard to Russia, to the point where it’s a punchline:
There’s one constant in each new twist of the drama over Russia that has overshadowed every day of Trump’s term in the Oval Office.
Each time there’s a damaging story on the issue, he makes exactly the same move — dumping on the US intelligence that lies behind it. It was a similar story when the President used a Helsinki summit with Putin to throw US intelligence agencies under the bus over their assessments that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election to help him win.
Trump is equally dismissive of science when it comes to coronavirus.