Even his conservative allies are piling on
The seemingly endless stream of leaks from within the Trump White House continues. In a revelation that could be the most devastating so far, sources have offered up details from President Trump’s first phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In alleged excerpts from the conversation, Trump brags to Putin about his own “popularity,” complains to Putin about “bad deals” made between America and Russia while President Obama was in office, and denounces a peace-making gesture from the Russian president, in a shocking exclusive first reported by Reuters.
In that particular exchange, Putin asks Trump if he’d like to extend the 2010 New Start treaty negotiated between the two nations, which would reduce nuclear stockpiles to historic levels.
Sadly, Trump literally had to pause the conversation to ask his aides what New Start is. And if that’s not horrifying enough, he then dismissed the value of the deal because it was one Obama negotiated.
“The Reuters report...suggests that he's extremely ill-informed about the most serious foreign policy, national security issues a president needs to know,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan group focused on reducing nuclear stockpiles. “His cluelessness is dangerous in the sense that if he doesn't understand the risks of nuclear weapons and commonsense measures to reduce the risks, he is, and the nation is, vulnerable to missteps.”
Even conservatives jumped on the report, saying it reflects a pattern of ignorance by Trump toward arguably the most important issue in the world today.
Granted, this leak is unofficial, since Trump aides reportedly turned off the voice recorder while the two leaders spoke. "The president's conversation with President Putin is a private call between the two of them, and I'm going to leave it at that," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told Reuters when asked about the veracity of the report.
But until we have evidence suggesting otherwise, it’s a worrisome report to say the least. Say what you will about Vladimir Putin. And to be clear, there’s not much positive to say. But he has shown a willingness to continue the advancements made by each nation in reducing their nuclear stockpiles. It’s been a common, practically universal goal between American presidents and their Russian counterparts, one even famously embraced by President Reagan during the height of the Cold War. And now, like so many other institutionalized norms, it stands at the brink while an ill-informed commander-in-chief weighs its merits based on a gut feeling.