“We were burglarized this time by foreign agents.”
Jill Wine-Banks, a member of the special prosecutor’s team who pursued the Watergate scandal, raised the Nazi-alarm Monday night on MSNBC, comparing President Donald Trump’s joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin to Kristallnacht, 9/11, and Pearl Harbor.
Setting the stage: Host Ali Velshi read Washington Post reports about the hours leading up to the summit. Trump was described, according to the Post’s sources, as “more excited to sit down with the Russian president than he had been to visit with NATO allies.”
To Velshi, this provided ample proof for conspiracy. “This has a complexity that is even richer [than Watergate] in that nobody thought that Richard Nixon was working on behalf of an enemy of the United States.”
It was then Wine-Banks’ turn. “Nobody can make sense of this,” she said.
The summit, she implicitly argued, was not mere political malpractice, but an open-and-shut case for treason. Watergate times 1,000.
“The [Watergate] burglars were Americans, they worked for the White House, they worked for the committee to reelect the president,” she began, straining hard to draw a connection. “And yet we were burglarized this time by foreign agents.”
“His performance today will live in infamy as much as the Pearl Harbor attack or Kristallnacht.”
– Fmr. Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks on Trump’s comments at the Helsinki summit pic.twitter.com/pp5YuNw1pi
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) July 17, 2018
At last, the hyperbole: “It’s just as serious to me as the Cuban Missile Crisis, in terms of an attack, or,” Wine-Banks escalated, “the 9/11 attack.”
And, directly talking about the Putin-Trump meeting, she only ramped up the comparisons.
“The president is taking the side of the people who attacked us instead of trying to prevent future attack,” she said before hitting the goal: “I would say that his performance today would live in infamy as much as the Pearl Harbor attack or Kristallnacht.”
Just a reminder: The 1941 Pearl Harbor attack was a suicidal assault by the Imperial Japanese air force on a Naval base in Hawaii. 2,400 Americans lost their lives in the attack. Kristallnacht was the 1938 state-sponsored pogrom in Nazi Germany against its Jewish residents, in which almost 100 were killed and tens of thousands were sent to concentration camps.
Trump has, under the least charitable read of events, slightly downplayed the involvement of Russian intelligence officers in the hacking of a political opponent’s computer system.
There’s much in the line of fair and reasonable criticism that can be said about the Helsinki summit, considering its potential geopolitical significance regarding US-EU relations, and its national security implications regarding the fraught relations between Trump and the US intelligence community. But, as Axios’ national politics reporter Jonathan Swan put it: “I think we can avoid Kristallnacht, people.”
I think we can avoid Kristallnacht, people. https://t.co/JCfxIeQNLd
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 17, 2018