Last week, Hugh Hewitt continued his quest — so far unsuccessful — to discover the names of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers. Assuming any exist.
Hewitt has been on this beat for some time. At the last Republican presidential debate, he asked Trump, “When are we going to get some names on your military and your foreign policy advisers?” Trump’s response, in its entirety, was this:
TRUMP: (inaudible) I’m — and I’m meeting with people that are terrific people, but I have to say something because it’s about judgment. I am the only person on this dais — the only person — that fought very, very hard against us (ph), and I wasn’t a sitting politician going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq — that was in 2003, you can check it out, check out — I’ll give you 25 different stories.
Aside from being unresponsive, Trump’s assertion about his position on Iraq was untrue. No one has been able to find a story from 2003 recording Trump’s alleged opposition to the Iraq War. Nor has anyone been able to discover the name of any of his alleged foreign policy advisers.
On September 21, a week after the debate, Hewitt interviewed Trump on his radio show and asked if he had figured out when he was going to have his national security team ready to roll out. Trump responded:
DT: I have, and we’re going to be announcing something very soon. We have a great team of people. … so many great national security people, including generals, have come to us and called us, and at the top level, and they want to be involved … and we have a great team in place, or shortly will be in place … we’re going to have a great team in place, absolutely.
Hewitt asked who would be on the team, mentioning some possible names, and asked whether Trump thought “people like me who are national security-minded will be reassured about your quality of your people?” Trump couldn’t name any names, but he was positive Hewitt would be impressed:
DT: I think you’re going to be impressed, and I think some of the people that we have, I won’t even mention whether or not some of the names that you mentioned are involved. But I will tell you I think you will be very impressed by the team. Again, you know, the most important is the person atop, because you have to know what suggestions to take, etc., etc. But I think you’ll be very impressed with the team, really top of the line.
A month later, on October 22, Hewitt interviewed Trump again, and asked whether “your military/national security team is ready to be rolled out, yet.” This time, Trump gave no timeline and said only that he had “had meetings with people,” and boy is the situation at the Veterans Administration bad:
DT: Well, I’ve had meetings with people, and I felt very strongly about, you know, that whole subject for a long period of time, long before this, long before this run. I’ve felt very, very strongly about it. I think there’s nothing more important. And you know, another thing [97 words about the “incredible” situation at the VA omitted], but I do have a great group of people, and at the right time, I’m going to roll them out. I think you’ll be impressed. I think even you will be impressed, Hugh.
Hewitt asked whether there was “a Kissinger” or “a Zbig” on the team, which produced another content-free answer from Trump:
DT: I think there are people that are highly respected. I don’t want to use, you know, necessarily the names that you just used, but I think they’re people that are highly-respected, and people that when they hear the names, people will be impressed, people that know, like yourself, will be impressed.
So here’s what we know, after two months of investigative journalism by Hewitt: Trump has been meeting with “terrific people,” at “the top level.” He has or will have “a great team in place,” “really top of the line.” He’s felt “very, very strongly” for a long time about the “whole subject,” and he has a “great group of people.” We’ll all be “impressed,” he said seven times.
Perhaps SNL can turn this into the cold open for the November 7 show (no additional writing necessary). Alternatively, SNL could build on the New Yorker cartoon that featured a distinctively-coiffed president with his White House advisers, saying: “Look, just nuke them and build something terrific.” My suggestion for chief adviser: drunk uncle Bobby Moynihan (no additional writing necessary) — or perhaps an unseen adviser that the Trump character continually calls “Harvey.”
Yesterday on CNN, Trump told Jake Tapper that “I should be given credit, because in 2003 I came out with a major statement, front page, all over the place … that we shouldn’t go into Iraq.” Google searches, Lexis-Nexis searches, and requests to the Trump campaign have all failed to produce any such statement. Trump’s opposition came in July 2004 — nearly a year-and-a-half after the war began, almost two years after the Congressional vote — and months after Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry opportunistically came out against the war after having voted to authorize it.
The Washington Post fact-checker recently gave Trump Four Pinocchios for his claims about his opposition to the war. One suspects his claims about his “great team in place” deserve a similar score.