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Trump and the Leaked Transcripts

The Washington Post published transcripts of Trump’s conversations with the Mexican president and Australian prime minister. I agree with critics that transcripts of confidential presidential calls with foreign leaders shouldn’t be leaked to the press, and I don’t think anything worthwhile was gained from their publication. For example, we see in the transcript of the call with Prime Minister Turnbull that Trump is 1) staggeringly ignorant on matters of policy; 2) stubbornly resistant to taking correction when someone explains the issue to him; 3) vehemently opposed to everything associated with Obama; 4) convinced that all deals agreed to before he took office are bad deals for the U.S. negotiated by stupid people; 5) completely out of his depth when representing the U.S. in dealings with other governments.

That tells us nothing about Trump that we didn’t already know from his public statements. All that the leaking of these conversations achieves is to make it harder for future presidents to speak in confidence with their foreign counterparts. We know from his foreign trips and public appearances that Trump disdains diplomacy and manages relations with close allies poorly, so we aren’t learning anything that we needed to know from these transcripts that we couldn’t find out another way. Publishing these transcripts was intended to embarrass Trump, and it has succeeded, but it has done so at a cost to future U.S. diplomacy that isn’t worth whatever brief satisfaction it may give the people responsible for it.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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