Tom Friedman: "Despicable" Republicans Acting Like "Political Cowards" Attacking Career Officials To Defend Trump | Video | RealClearPolitics

Tom Friedman: "Despicable" Republicans Acting Like "Political Cowards" Attacking Career Officials To Defend Trump

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New York Times columnist Tom Friedman blasted Republicans Tuesday on CNN, saying those who are attempting to discredit career diplomats to defend President Trump in the House impeachment inquiry are "so despicable."

"You can’t say in one place they’re traitors and ignoramuses, and in the other place, they're wonderful heroes. They’re the same people," Friedman said.





"I worry about the future of my country today more than any time in my life," Friedman stated. "We’re seeing a group of Republicans, who know very well that what Trump engaged in on that phone call and well beyond it, was an impeachable offense, and instead of calling that out and getting to the bottom of it, they’re attacking the process and the very system of our government."

He continued: "This is so dangerous. This is so despicable. These are people who every day run around boasting and bragging and praising all these American soldiers, who make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. And these people, these people wouldn’t make the tiniest sacrifice, not the tiniest sacrifice to just fulfill their Constitutional oath to see this impeachment process to its true and honest end."

"They are disgusting and they are hurting our country," he said.

COOPER: It's still unclear where President Trump might have learned that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was, in the President's word, whimpering and crying before he was killed. A White House spokesman said he wasn't going to get into any specifics about any technology that could have made it possible and the Defense Department didn't offer anymore information about that or if the President might have talked to the commandos who were there.

What is clear, according to reporting by CNN's Barbara Starr, is that, the speech the President delivered didn't resemble what had been put together before hand. The President wanted a tough speech according to one source, and both he and one of his closest aides, Stephen Miller, worked on in the language up until the last minute.

No one better discuss this than New York Times Columnist Tom Friedman, author of "From Beirut to Jerusalem" winner of the National Book Award.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tom, the fact that no one seems to know where the president got this information about Baghdadi supposedly whimpering, along with the fact he wanted a speech to be "tough", it does kind of tell you about where this President's leadership style and priorities are.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you were hoping this kind of situation, Anderson, you would have sat down with intelligence experts, and basically said what kind of message do we want to convey?

[20:55:07]

Clearly, the message they wanted to convey was that, oh, Baghdadi was a coward. He was whispering. He was crying.

The argument for that message is that, there was nothing heroic about this guy. There was nothing heroic about this movement. He went down as a coward. There's nothing and no one you want to emulate. This is not a heroic movement. That's one argument for his approach that I could imagine coming out of the intelligence community.

The other argument would be very low key, just be very straight forward, don't be spiking the football on his grave because you don't want to stimulate someone out there, some marginal guys to say, you're trying to humiliate my leader, my guy. Well, let me find a suicide vest.

So I don't know which approach they took-- I know what approach they took, I hope it was on the basis of consideration, not the president and Stephen Miller flying by the seat of their pants.

COOPER: The role that the Kurds played in all of this, I mean, the intelligence they provided which led the US to Baghdadi, the fact that it's coming right on the heels of the US leaving them high and dry in Syria. When the President was asked about the contribution that they made to the raid, all he could said was they gave us some information that turned out to be helpful. Certainly, seems like it was a lot more than that.

FREIDMAN: Well, certainly from our reporting in the New York Times and I know CNN, it was clear the Kurds managed to infiltrate and steal some of his underwear and even get a blood sample, so we were able to identify that he was the guy there, and then identified that we killed him.

Look, the Kurds, they come from this area. They know this area. We've been depending on them since the very beginning of this fight. They made an incredible sacrifice. They lost 11,000 people, men and women, fighting ISIS, basically beyond their area, fighting ISIS for us at the behest of the United States, and allowing us blessedly so to lose, I think, only five or six soldiers.

COOPER: The president in the announcement on Sunday, he did hale the work of US intelligence agencies rightly. But as you pointed out in your piece, these are the same intelligence agencies he has been consistently disparaging and undercutting really from the beginning.

FRIEDMAN: Yes. The same intelligence agencies who did the remarkable work with the help of others tracking down Baghdadi to this little tiny spot in Syria, the same people who told us that Russian agents participated in using cyber weapons to tip our last election, to attempt to tip our last election, on behalf of President Trump and away from Hillary Clinton, same agencies, same people, same work ethic, same oath to protect and preserve the constitution.

And you can't say in one place they are traitors and ignoramuses, and on the other place they are wonderful heroes. They are the same people.

COOPER: Just lastly, obviously today, Lieutenant Alexander Vindman, who, you know, have served decades, two decades in the military, has shrapnel in his body from an IUD attack while serving in Iraq. He is being accused by President Trump's allies of being disloyal to America over his testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

Is this, I mean, does this only go downhill from here? I mean, I'm not sure how much lower it can get but -- it doesn't seem on a trajectory that makes any sense.

FRIEDMAN: Anderson, I have to tell you, I worry about the future of my country today more than any time in my life. I'm 66, lived through the Cold War, lived through Watergate, live through Vietnam. Because what we're seeing is we're seeing a group of Republicans who know very well that with Trump engage in, and that phone call and well beyond it, was an impeachable offense. And instead of calling that out, getting to the bottom of it, instead of attacking that, they are attacking the process and the very system of our government.

This is so dangerous. This is so despicable. These are people who every day run around boasting and bragging, and praising all these American soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom. And these people, these people wouldn't make the tinniest sacrifice, not the tinniest sacrifice to just fulfill their constitutional oath to see this impeachment process to its true and honest end. They are disgusting and they are hurting our country.

COOPER: And that's based -- or just on political calculation?

FREIDMAN: It's all based on political calculation. They are political cowards. They will praise the soldiers when they serve their interests. They will praise them for making the ultimate sacrifice. And these people won't make the smallest sacrifice because Donald Trump might tweet them or they might not get invited for the next golf round? They are disgusting, they are shameful and they are hurting our country.

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