Trump’s intervention on Twitter this morning contributed to the Israeli decision to bar Reps. Tlaib and Omar from entering the country. Trump said this:
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Trump’s behavior is predictably outrageous and destructive, and he is telling scurrilous lies about both Tlaib and Omar. The only disgrace is the liar in the White House. At this point, we don’t expect anything else, but this time it is particularly dangerous. Trump is engaging in incitement against Tlaib and Omar again by spreading more lies about them. He is also urging a foreign government to block elected U.S. representatives from visiting that country because of their political views and because they are his political opponents. The president is abusing his power, he is putting these Congresswomen in danger again, and he is siding with a foreign government against fellow Americans.
Other governments will be able to cite this the next time they want to block critical members of Congress from coming to their countries. That will hinder Congress in its ability to do proper oversight of U.S. relations with many states and it will prevent them from being able to learn for themselves about the effects of U.S. policies made in Washington. This will make for a worse, even less-informed Congressional role in matters of foreign policy than we already have, and in the short term it will encourage other governments to penalize the president’s domestic opponents as a way of currying favor with him.
Trump and Netanyahu have apparently done this because they think they gain politically as a result, but I’m not so sure that’s true. The entire episode makes Netanyahu appear weak and frightened of a couple first-term members of Congress, and it makes a mockery of Trump’s supposed interest in putting America and Americans first. Neither leader is likely to gain more support because of this, and it seems much more likely to backfire on both them.