As McCain continues to cling on to Trump for political convenience, his support is called into question.
Washington Post’s Greg Sargent highlights John McCain’s hypocritical continuous endorsement of Donald Trump while refusing to say whether or not he trusts Trump to handle nukes.
Read the full article below or click here.
Washington Post: Would you trust Trump to handle nukes? Republican Senators won’t say.
Can President Donald Trump be trusted to handle the nuclear arsenal? That would seem like a fairly straightforward question for Republican Senators who say they will vote for Trump this fall.
But we now have two Republican Senators who are refusing to answer the question: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and John McCain of Arizona. As it happens, both are facing tough reelection fights — and both are leading voices on foreign policy inside their party.
Ayotte was asked the question by CNN’s Manu Raju. As Raju notes in CNN’s segment on the episode, she refused to answer.
Meanwhile, as I reported a couple of weeks ago, McCain was asked the same question, and he pulled a big time homina homina homina, freezing in silence and then stammering a bit before delivering a non-answer along the lines of: I’ll leave this question to the American people to decide!
Here’s video of the new exchange involving Ayotte, combined with the older one involving McCain, with some assorted Trump quotes about nuclear weapons sprinkled in:
Ayotte declined to answer, instead saying she is worried about continuing with our current foreign policies, which is supposed to mean (one imagines) that anything would be better than the status quo, even Trump.
Meanwhile, other news outlets are also struggling to get Ayotte to answer this question. A New Hampshire outlet asked her point blank, and reported: “Asked by NH1 news if she’s concerned about a President Trump controlling the country’s nuclear weapons, Ayotte didn’t answer.”
And here’s what the AP reported today:
The senator, a prominent voice on national security issues, would not say whether she trusted Trump with the codes to the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Instead, she noted Congress’ oversight role.
“We have a strong system of checks and balances,” she said, promising to play an active role in national security whether Clinton or Trump wins the presidency. “I think he’ll surround himself, I assume, with people who will help him understand.”
That’s a remarkable answer: Ayotte won’t say whether Trump can be trusted with the nuclear codes, but she’ll vote for him anyway, while placing her trust in institutional limitations on the president’s powers, or even in his own hand-picked advisers, to prevent him from doing too much damage.
If that latter excuse sounds familiar, it’s because GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell recently employed a similar one. He claimed that he isn’t concerned about Trump’s refusal to commit to defending our NATO allies, because Trump’s cabinet members would differ with him on that point — as if they could be counted on to rein him in.
Meanwhile, the problem with placing trust in our institutions to limit Trump when it comes to handling the nuclear arsenal is that this is one area where the President enjoys enormous latitude to act. As the New York Times recently reported, the practical peculiarities involving the nuclear arsenal have effectively eroded meaningful checks on his or her power over it, leaving the president with “awesome authority.”
Recently several dozen national security experts who have served Republican presidents signed an open letter that flatly declared Trump temperamentally unfit to have control over the nuclear arsenal: He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
But, crucially, all of those signatories also pledged not to vote for Trump in that letter. Both Ayotte and McCain — who will not answer this fundamental question about Trump’s fitness to handle nukes at all — have also said either that they’ll vote for Trump or that they support him.
In the end, though, while this obviously does not reflect particularly well on Ayotte or McCain, this should be seen as a devastating indictment of Trump. It opens the door for more Republican lawmakers and incumbents who back Trump (in one way or another) to be asked whether they trust him to handle the nuclear arsenal, and if they won’t say that they do, why they continue to support him.
Take, for instance, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is also facing a very tough reelection race. Toomey originally said he would back the GOP nominee, whoever it is. Yet after Trump won the nomination, Toomey hedged and backpedaled, claiming he was “inclined” to support the GOP nominee, while suggesting he hadn’t made up his mind. So you’d think he’d soon face the question: Would you really trust Trump to handle the nuclear arsenal? And if you won’t say, why are you inclined to support him?
As we’re discovering, this isn’t an easy line of questioning for GOP Senators — even those who have flatly declared they are voting for him.