Aaron Blake at the Post on Trump’s disgusting “statement”:

Perhaps anticipating a damning report, Trump released a long, exclamation-point-laden statement preemptively making the case for not punishing Mohammed or his father, King Salman, even if they were involved. It’s a remarkable statement that even includes a smear against the slain journalist, while insisting that Trump didn’t believe the smear.

Below is the statement in full, with our annotations.

Exclamation points don’t belong in official presidential statements. He might as well do a press conference with his underpants on his head.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia

Annotation: As much as the content of the statement, the headline reveals exactly what it is: A pass. A statement “on standing with” another country is what you put when that country is unfairly maligned or experienced a crisis. It’s not what you say when you are going to hold someone accountable for wrongdoing.

That is a pretty pregnant choice of words.

Very. It’s most familiar to me from aggrieved dudebros on Twitter vowing to “stand with” Sam Harris or Jordan Peterson or Lawrence Krauss or [the list is long].

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

Annotation: This is not how presidential statements usually begin – particularly on sensitive foreign policy matters involving tragedy.

There are eight exclamation points in it, including six that Trump used on his own (separate from quoting someone else).

And why don’t presidential statements usually begin with exclamations? Because it looks childish in an official government statement. It also looks overexcited, out of control, disinhibited.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.

Annotation: 1) This is a baseless smear against a slain journalist, and the president is repeating it while insisting that it doesn’t matter to him. Then why include it? Trafficking in this kind of innuendo in a presidential statement is remarkable, and will likely be criticized even by Republicans.

2) Trump is disclosing something that Saudi Arabia actually denied.

On the one hand Saudi Arabia says this so let’s drag it in, on the other hand the CIA says that so let’s throw up our hands and say how can we ever know.

Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.

Annotation: To be clear: The CIA is preparing to report that it has high confidence that Mohammed was behind Khashoggi’s killing. Trump is basically arguing that we’ll never know for sure.

As I argued this weekend, intelligence is an imprecise business, but if you require 100 percent proof of anything, you’ll never hold countries accountable for taking advantage of you. It’s an impossible standard.

Trump is also bucking his own intelligence community again – just as he did with Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Aaron Blake does good annotations.

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