From Nuking Hurricanes to Friending Kim Jong Un, A Credibility Bill Comes Due For Trump

At the G7 meeting, President Donald Trump enlisted First Lady Melania Trump to vouch for his view that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is a person with “tremendous potential” after spending time with him. The problem is that the First Lady has never met Kim Jong Un, as the White House later embarrassingly admitted. It was a signature moment for the President who has been struggling to convince people that he never suggested nuking hurricanes despite multiple alleged sources saying that he raised the idea repeatedly. The problem is really not the importance of the First Lady vouching for Kim Jong Un or even nuking hurricanes, the problem is that Trump has made so many false statements (including statements contradicted on videotape) that it is no longer possible to simply take his word for it that he never raised the truly insane idea of nuking hurricanes. It is amazing how Trump’s denial did not seem to have any real impact on the coverage. The credibility bill has come due for the President.

At the G-7 (Group of Seven) summit, President Donald Trump declared “Kim Jong Un — who I’ve gotten to know extremely well; the first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong Un, and I think she’d agree with me — he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.” 

For Trump, it was a relatively small misfire. However, it was coming at a time when he was denying a shocking report that he suggested the possibility of exploding nukes to stop the formation of hurricanes.  Axios reported that Trump made the proposal to senior Homeland Security and national security officials and cited multiple sources. 

The president later called the story “ridiculous.” “The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous. I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!”

For any other president, the denial would have been enough to knock down a story of a clearly moronic proposal. However, Trump has lost that credibility cushion.

While Francis W. Riechelderfer, the head of the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service), once raised the idea in 1961, it would cause untold environmental harm. It is chilling that if any modern president would even contemplate such an act. As NOAA wrote on its FAQ page “Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea.” 

The more worrisome fact for the White House is that this story is considered plausible and that the President’s denial had no impact on the news cycle. That is why President speak carefully. They know that credibility, once lost, is difficult to regain . . . particularly when you need it the most.

I truly do not know the truth of this matter and that disturbs me a great deal. Like many Americans, it is not clear who or what source can be trusted. With some media now openly anti-Trump, it is difficult to trust the reporting. Yet, the President himself shows a continuing lack of concern over the accuracy or truth of statements. That leaves the public with little ability to discern fact from fiction — a dangerous position for any democratic system.

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