Donald Trump’s credibility sinks to hellish depths in Helsinki, while Big Trev gets caught telling tall tales in Longman. Managing editor Dave Donovan reports.
DONALD TRUMP says he misspoke in his Helsinki press conference with Putin. He's checked the transcript. He claims he meant to say “wouldn’t”, when in fact he said, “I can’t see any reason why Russia would”.
Does anyone in the world really accept this preposterous explanation?
To put the U.S. President’s comments into context, let’s consider the wider transcript [IA emphasis]:
MS. SANDERS: The final question from the United States will go to Jonathan Lemire, from the AP.
Question Thank you. A question for each President. President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What ‒ who ‒ my first question for you, sir, is, who do you believe?
My second question is, would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin ‒ would you denounce what happened in 2016? And would you warn him to never do it again?
TRUMP: So, let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven't they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I've been wondering that. I've been asking that for months and months, and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?
With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me ‒ Dan Coats came to me and some others ‒ they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia.
Any speech expert would tell you that this means he was consciously aware of exactly what he was saying! pic.twitter.com/ML8CtalntM— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) July 17, 2018
I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have ‒ I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They're missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone -- just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn't be gone so easily. I think it's a disgrace that we can't get Hillary Clinton's 33,000 emails.
So, I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. Okay? Thank you.
To summarise, Trump first casts doubt on the FBI’s impartiality with regards to its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Then he says his Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, told him it was Russia, but Putin had denied it in the meeting they’d just had. Trump then declares his confidence in both parties: Coats and Putin. He follows this by, again, casting doubt on the FBI’s integrity and/or competence, saying he couldn’t imagine Russian intelligence would have allowed such a “disgrace” as losing Clinton’s emails. Finally, Trump reiterates his confidence in U.S. intelligence before casting doubt on it again, saying Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial”.
In short, Trump declared equal confidence on his intelligence chief and Putin, before besmirching the FBI and praising Russian intelligence. Then he again declared his confidence in U.S. intelligence, before asserting that Putin’s denial was convincing.
Despite his obfuscation, there can be absolutely no doubt that, in response to the vicious backlash he has received over his support for Putin over his own intelligence – including a massive crowd assembling outside the White House last night chanting “traitor” ‒ Trump decided to reverse his comments.
Trump meant exactly what he said at the time, as he submissively cosied up to the Russian dictator. If he had really misspoken, he could have cleared it up immediately in an interview with Sean Hannity held straight after the press conference.
The media will probably not make as much of this blatant lie as they should, because of Trump-fatigue — we have come to expect this sort of brazen deceit from Trump. It just doesn’t surprise us anymore.
BREAKING: President Trump claims he misspoke while discussing election meddling during news conference with Putin: "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' ... The sentence should've been: 'I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia'" pic.twitter.com/2bA9EionD1— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 17, 2018
RUTHENBERG RETURNS SERVICE
What we don’t hopefully have yet come to expect is for former Australian service personnel standing for election to blatantly lie about their military record and the Prime Minister to laugh it off as an “honest mistake”.
Ruthenberg is a former Queensland State MP, who lost his job in the Campbell Newman election wipe-out of 2015. Since 2012, the former RAAF corporal claimed on the official Queensland Parliament website that he had received the Australian Service Medal, awarded for non-war operations, such as peacekeeping, overseas. Then, the other day, it was pointed out that Trevor had never served overseas.
The gig was up, but still Corporal Ruthenberg (ret’d) refused to accept responsibility:
"I've never worn the Australian Service Medal — I've only ever worn the medal that was awarded to me. I respect the uniform way too much to intentionally claim something I don't have.”
Well, except that this was exactly what he’d done.
The former Corporal continued:
"I'm not a military imposter. I did serve in the military. As soon as it was pointed out to me, I immediately stuck my hand up and said I've made a mistake and have apologised for that."
True. Not a military imposter, as such, but rather a military service imposter.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, meanwhile, believed “Big Trev’s” explanation without hesitation, calling it “an honest mistake” as he tried to laugh it all off:
"Big Trev is as honest and straight as he is big — and he is big. He’s very embarrassed about it.”
Of course he is embarrassed. He got caught out lying. Or exposed as an absolute idiot. Perhaps both?
Independent Australia has been in touch with several former service personell and all of them expressed varying levels of disbelief that any sane individual could confuse the Australian Service Medal for the Australian Defence Medal — awarded to those who had undertaken more than four years military service.
Here was one typical response:
I have the ADM and cannot understand how it was a mistake. See, the medal was only approved in 2006, but anyone with service from WWII could apply. Note that word.
What you had to do is apply to the Department of Defence for the Australian Defence Medal — fill out a form with service details and history. Then after a bit, once it was approved you could either receive the thing by registered post or a little ceremony presided over by your local member (I went for that, my taxes at work) and you get two medals (parade and posh dinner versions) in a little box that says "Australian Defence Medal" on the front.
Also, inside the box is a little card telling you all about your Australian Defence Medal and what it signifies. This is not an "up with the rations" job that you just chuck in your kitbag. There is a process with lots of markers telling you what you are applying for and how you will receive it.
“I don’t know that it’s an easy mistake, but at the end of the day, he’s made a mistake and he’s admitted to his mistake.”
Yes, he admitted his mistake — to try to dig himself out of a hole.
And if Turnbull had done a little digging himself, he might have questioned Big Trev’s “big” honesty, because it seems Ruthenberg may have also embellished his resumé in other ways.
For instance, Trev claims to have been an “aeronautical ground engineer” for the RAAF. Yet Ruthenberg has no tertiary qualifications in engineering or anything else. His apprenticeship in the RAAF left him with a civilian trade qualification as a fitter and turner. According to IA’s enquiries – and we stand ready to be corrected – there is no such job as an “aeronautical ground engineer” in the RAAF. And, moreover, only commissioned officers ‒ not NCOs like Ruthenberg ‒ are entitled to call themselves “engineers” in the Australian Air Force. Is Corporal Ruthenberg trying to make voters believe he was as an officer?
Big Trev is as honest as he is big, says Malcolm. Perhaps we should also check to see if Trev is big?
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My husband has an Australian Defence Medal for over 4yrs ADF service there is no way you could mistakenly claim on your bio it is an Australian Service Medal and all that implies in terms of service. #LongmanVotes #auspol https://t.co/UQs9zHY2VB— Catherine King MP (@CatherineKingMP) July 17, 2018