Over the past twenty days Donald Trump has gone from desperately trying to cover up the deadly U.S. military operation in Niger, to desperately trying to distract from it by any means possible. He’s sunk to some jarring new lows in the name of trying to create those distractions. But as of today, his efforts have failed, as Niger has officially become the massive Trump scandal that we had expected it to become.
Trump spent the past several days trying to create controversy between himself, the pregnant widow of one of the fallen U.S soldiers, and a Congresswoman who is friends with the soldier’s family. But that all went splat on Trump this morning, when the widow herself finally went on national television to confirm that Trump really did say something offensive to her. After that Trump took one last parting shot at her on Twitter, but it was clear that the distraction had backfired on him, and that it was thus over. That meant the Niger scandal itself was about to come front and center, and hours later, it did.
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took to the White House podium today before live television cameras in what amounted to the administration’s first instance of seriously addressing the Niger operation in public. Dunford took a conciliatory stance toward those who have been demanding answers. He vowed to give more information about the operation to Congress. He acknowledged there will be an investigation into what went wrong with the op, which is going to happen whether Trump wants it to or not.
It was the kind of moment that should have happened, at most, a day or two after the deadly Niger debacle. Instead it’s happening nearly three weeks later. It’s a sign that Donald Trump’s White House now realizes Niger is a massive scandal, and that there’s no further point in trying to obfuscate it. We’ll see what Trump does next on Twitter – but at this point even his own military brass is unwilling to participate in his games.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report