The news following yesterday’s meeting between leaders of North and South Korea is absolutely an unadulterated good. After 65 years of ‘armistice’ it appears that the leaders are close to an arrangement that will see the war that began in 1950 officially brought to a close. What this means going forward: Does the demilitarized zone continue to exist? Is it a step toward some sort of actual union between the two countries? It seems impossible to tell.
Why is this happening now? The North Korean soldier who escaped across the DMZ recently had been eating raw corn in a field before his escape, indicating that even a military officer was living on the brink of starvation. The recent not-so-secret train trip that Kim Jong-un took into China may have netted a promise of support … but might have also resulted in the news that he was an embarrassment they could no longer afford. Actually understanding what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula at this moment is a task for historians.
But one man is standing by to take credit.
Should actual progress be made in Korea, conservatives will rush to turn Trump into the new Ronald Reagan. Which is fitting, because both happened to be on hand when a complex series of internal pressures, few if any of which had to do with US actions, brought down a brutal regime. And everyone will get new history books explaining how Trump ended the war by … cutting taxes, or raising the military budget, or yelling on Twitter. Or all of the above.
Still, just because great things are moving in the world, it couldn’t distract Trump long enough to keep him from tossing a different topic into his morning fit.
Is everybody believing what is going on. James Comey can’t define what a leak is. He illegally leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION but doesn’t understand what he did or how serious it is. He lied all over the place to cover it up. He’s either very sick or very dumb. Remember sailor!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2018
Trump’s post may generate a “Sailor, what sailor?” response from most people, but within his own small collection of obsessions, the tweet is drawing a comparison between James Comey and ex-Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, who was prosecuted and jailed for distributing photographs he took within classified areas of a nuclear submarine. Earlier this month, Trump pardoned Saucier.
Congratulations to Kristian Saucier, a man who has served proudly in the Navy, on your newly found Freedom. Now you can go out and have the life you deserve!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 10, 2018
During the campaign, Trump compares Saucier’s case to that of Hillary Clinton. And now he is again bringing up the former sailor in attacking Comey.
Because for Donald Trump, information that’s detrimental to him, but which was likely not classified at the time Comey distributed it, is certainly equal to detailed photographs of classified section of one of America’s most secretive weapons. Trump gave Saucier his second pardon—his first went to former sheriff Joe Arpaio—despite some pretty good reasons why he should not.
Saucier had said previously that he had only wanted service mementos. But federal prosecutors argued he was a disgruntled sailor who had put national security at risk by taking photos showing the submarine’s propulsion system and reactor compartment and then obstructed justice by destroying a laptop and camera. Saucier claimed his prosecution was driven by sensitivity about classified information amid the scandal involving Clinton’s emails.
That Saucier even took a camera into the submarine was itself a court-martial offense and one of the biggest taboos of the submarine service. Saucier also testified to the FBI that he didn’t take the pictures—before going home to smash his laptop and an SD card. He then took his laptop into the woods and tried to bury it. All very innocent.
The “Hillary did it too!” defense didn’t work with the JAG, where three witnesses testified that Saucier had taken the pictures, but it made him a hero for the MAGA crowd. Evidence that he was deliberately trying to capture US military secrets and lying about his actions didn’t slow them, or Trump, from cheering Saucier on. Saucier’s mother made appearances on Fox News, and his case was played up by Fox commentators.
In Comey’s case, the classified information released was … hard to define. It’s also not clear if anything in Comey’s memos had been classified at the time he handed them over to a friend.
But hey. There’s that good news.
White House aide 10 days ago told me that if the Trump-Kim Jong Un talks lead to a thaw between US and North Korea, which at points last year seemed at brink of war, president and Kim both deserve to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) April 27, 2018