The thing I like about the guy are his little truisms. One of those goes as follows: “When you have nothing to hide, you hide nothing.” Those words are usually directed at couples – when one, or both, have messed up, but certainly could be applied in other situations.
Those words consistently come to mind as I observe the ongoing drama connected to the Trump presidency. The means Trump and his group use to “hide” things from the citizens in the United States are quite varied. There are statements made that might be considered a bit less than truthful. There are diversions one might describe as smoke and mirrors. Finally, there is limited access for the press to the president and some in the cabinet. When the press is not privy to information – the public is uninformed.
Trump's secretary of state made his first major overseas trip to Japan, South Korea, and China in March and he did not make room for reporters on the plane. Rex Tillerson did allow one reporter from a right-leaning website journal to accompany him. It can be assumed there probably were no hard questions asked. It is interesting to note that the reason Tillerson gave for not including the press on his trip is that “...there's only a purpose in getting the message out when there's something to be done.”
One has to wonder why Tillerson made the trip if there was nothing to be done? With all that is going on in Asia it would seem there is plenty to be done. Other members of the current cabinet who have already avoided talking with the press are Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Cho. It is too early to tell if others will take the same stance.
Some of the statements Donald Trump has made which appear to be a bit less than truthful have been brought to the public's attention by reporters of the National Review, The Washington Post, CNN… and the list goes on. One that gave me a chuckle was his claim that his inauguration was attended by record numbers of people. The cameras scanning “the crowd” told a different story. Disagreements have come to be known as “alternate facts.” Another alternate fact appeared as Trump claimed that millions of illegal ballots cast by undocumented immigrants deprived him of winning the popular vote.
Then there is the use of smoke and mirrors. As investigation into possible collusion with Russia on the part of his campaign team during the election and prior to his taking office was taking place, Trump attempted to divert attention by accusing former President Obama of tapping his phones. When that was proven false he then claimed it was surveillance that occurred.
Now it is Representative Devin Nunes – a member of Trump's transition team – who is under investigation with the Office of Congressional Ethics for possibly mishandling classified information.
The filed accusations have resulted in him stepping aside from his role as chairman of the House intelligence committee. Since Nunes was known to have ties to Trump – and was in charge of investigating the possible collusion between Trump, his people, and Russia – it certainly did seem like a case of the fox in charge of guarding the hen house.
I am both fascinated and horrified that a person who seems so loose with the truth, so self-absorbed and unpredictable is president of the United States. I am convinced that a very bright light needs to be kept trained on that office for the next 3 3/4 years. I have heard some folks here say, “When the United States sneezes, we catch a cold.” Certainly, we are impacted by what happens to the south. That is why the light is necessary.
Shirley Hallee’s column appears bi-weekly in the Amherst News.