You can support your country or Trump, but not both

President Donald Trump participates in a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the East Room of the White House on June 26. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS

It comes down to a binary choice. Either he is a monster or an ignoramus.

Either Donald Trump did nothing when informed that American intelligence believed Russia was paying a bounty to the Taliban for killing American military personnel in Afghanistan, or he had no clue, didn’t even know it was going on.

A monster or an ignoramus? Well, if you believe Trump, he’s the latter.

Which makes you wonder if he understands how excuses work. Your excuse is supposed to exonerate you, show you innocent of all charges. His have a tendency to show him thick as a brick, stretching credulity like taffy.

He tweeted a thank-you to some guy caught on video yelling “White Power”? Oh, he didn’t hear that part.

He needed two hands to drink a glass of water? Oh, he didn’t want to mess up his tie.

He said he had the coronavirus pandemic under control? Oh, the death toll could have been much worse.

He suggested injecting household disinfectants as a cure? Oh, he was only joking.

He fired the prosecutor investigating his personal lawyer? Oh, he was not involved in that.

Who can be surprised, then, that Trump has responded to news of Russia putting a price on American heads by saying nobody told him?

Except that apparently, somebody did. The New York Times reports that two American officials say the information was included in late February in the President’s Daily Brief, a document summarizing national security concerns and assessments that is prepared by the intelligence community each morning for the president to read. In all fairness, that last word is problematic with this particular president, whose impatience with the printed word is legendary.

And besides, he’s a busy man. Indeed, according to one of the Times’ sources, the specific date the Russian intel was included was February 27, a day Trump met with “Diamond and Silk,” two former Fox “News” personalities famed for being black and loud while supporting him. Because, you know, priorities.

Presumably, the PDB he received that day would have told him how three marines were killed by a bomb last April. Presumably, it would have informed him that this tragedy has emerged as the focal point of a probe suggesting Russia put a bull’s-eye on Americans. Whereupon a normal president would surely have raised the alarm, confronted the enemy or, at a minimum, acknowledged the crime.

But again, Trump is a very busy man, what with coronavirus blame to dodge and Confederate statues to defend.

And in the end, it doesn’t matter much whether he is a moral monster or an utter ignoramus. Or both. What he undeniably is is a man who has spent a lifetime oozing his way out of accountability. From his bone spurs to his broken marriages to his bankrupt casinos to his fraudulent university to his crooked charity to his failed meat company to his unpaid bills to the manifold debacles of his presidency, when has Trump ever had to stand up and take the weight? No, avoiding the weight is who he is, who he always will be.

Yet if this latest episode teaches us nothing new about Trump, one harbors a faint hope that it may be a Rubicon of sorts, a bridge finally too far, for some of his enablers, for the pundits, politicians and aides who serve as his unswerving amen corner, professing to divine perfume-scented rainbows in the steaming piles of horse manure he leaves behind. One hopes they finally understand the bottom line here: you can support your country or Trump, but not both.

That, too, is a binary choice.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Miami, Fla., 33172. Readers may contact him via email at

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(6) comments


In the 1980's, President Reagan provided stinger missiles to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. With those missiles the Mujahideen killed hundreds of Russian soldiers. At that time, Vladimir Putin was a mid-level KGB agent in East Germany. His biographers all agree that the events in Afghanistan and the deaths of Russian soldiers by U.S. missiles incensed him and if ever given the chance he would seek revenge. In Feb 2018, just two years ago, Trump is President, a 200+ unit of Russians along with 300+ unit of Syrians moved into a U.S. protected area near Deir el-Zour in Syria. The U.S. military, through laision officers, told the Russians to move. The Russians denied they were there. The U.S. got permission from the highest authority (it was after all a possible Russian-U.S. conflict) to protect themselves. The "highest authority!" The U.S.then asked the Russian/Syrians to leave. Instead of leaving, the Russians/Syrians attacked the U.S. position (40 U.S. military personnel) with tanks, artillery, and advanced towards the U.S. position. Four hours later, 200+ Russians and 250+ Syrians were dead and all their equipment destroyed (this event easily found on the internet). No U.S. casualties. One hour after that event, the U.S. gave the Russian commander permission to come into that area with trucks to pick up their dead. Now Putin is doubly incessed. Moscow, In communications with Iranian General Soleimani, plotted to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria using Iranian proxy forces, Hezbollah. When General Soleimani arrived in Baghdad in Jan 2020 to finalize those plans, Trump blew him up. Over the past 40 years the U.S. is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Russian soldiers. I am sure in the future, Putin will plot the death of U.S. military personnel whenever and wherever he can. In his mind he is justified because of how many of his soldiers the U.S. has killed over the years. You want Trump to blow up Putin? He could. No, you want Trump punished, not Putin.

Holmes -- the real one

Donald J. Trump


Nobody briefed or told me, @VP

Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows

about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake News @nytimes

. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us.....

Holmes -- the real one

Ignorance is inexcusable; it’s the surest way to fail. No acceptable reason exists for not being well informed.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 26, 2013

hermit thrush

good column.


True that! Deport all republicans, make America great again.

Charlie McGrath

We need to send the Republicans back to where they came from.

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