Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö finds himself in what has become, in the United States, a commonplace situation: Having to deny to reporters that he knows what the hell Donald Trump is talking about.
The leader of Finland denied on Sunday that he’d ever told President Donald Trump that the small Nordic nation relies upon “raking” its forests to prevent wildfires — even though Trump promoted the dubious conservation method during a visit to flame-ravaged California over the weekend. […]
“I mentioned [to] him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network,” Niinistö said, adding that he recalled telling Trump: “We take care of our forests.”
Trump‘s assertion that Finland spends “a lot of time on raking and cleaning” to prevent forest fires was enough to launch the expected stream of comic re-leaf, as Finnish citizens demonstrated their own forest-raking techniques for a president who may or may not ever realize they are not serious. But Trump‘s frequent vacations from reality continue to pose a more perplexing press question: Is it news when a sitting United States president says something stupid?
Ordinarily, yes. But what if it happens once per day? Twice? Ten times? At what point does the president said something stupid turn into the president appears to be resident of his own invented world, one far different from our own? It is a world where the forests are raked and tended like golf course rough. It is a world of vast conspiracies, and minor ones, a world of low insult comedy and a reflexive new vendettas. It is a world that threatens to vacuum up his supporters, never to spit them out again.
If the sitting president is demonstrably an idiot, that is news�–though news that reporters have tacitly agreed not to write, leaving us stumped as to what the next steps should be. If the sitting president says demonstrably idiotic things with such frequency that they overwhelm his other statements, but there is a tacit understanding to leave the president’s mental condition unprobed and unquestioned … what then? Are those statements even newsworthy? Would we be better off drawing the curtain, pretending he is just muttering to himself?
That seems unwise, for a host of reasons. But the status quo, in which a raving lunatic hurls dozens of not-facts at us each day and we dutifully rake up each one, putting them in the usual piles of plainly false, weird and unnecessary braggadocio or just objectively hilarious, day after day after day, seems … tenuous.
On this date at Daily Kos in 2017—Donald Trump‘s tax returns are in a locked IRS cabinet, soon to be a locked IRS safe:
Who figured the IRS would keep the tax histories of every elected president on paper in a big ol’ cabinet? It’s safe to say most people imagined they would have those returns on computers now.
There is, of course, nothing standing in the way of Donald Trump simply releasing those returns. That is what every modern presidential candidate has done. It has been the expected ethical norm. While on the campaign trail, he himself repeatedly promised to do so. He lied, of course, because he is a sociopathic garbage fire in a suit, but he did say the words.
Given the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into potential campaign collusion with the Russian intelligence efforts designed to bend the 2016 election Trump‘s way—an investigation that has already focused on illicit financial dealings between Trump campaign head Paul Manafort and his pro-Russia foreign benefactors—it is almost certain that Mueller’s team already has Trump‘s own records as well. It’d be malpractice not to examine them.
That doesn’t mean we’ll ever hear what they contain. But some of the most-feared investigators in the nation are now combing through them, and if those records do end up showing what so many of Trump‘s critics suspect they show—that Trump‘s real estate empire has been built in large part on Russian money-laundering schemes—it’s quite likely that that little detail will come out.