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William Rivers Pitt | Some Questions for Mr. Trump

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
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President-elect Donald Trump speaks with reporters at his New Year's Eve party at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2016. (Photo: Hilary Swift / The New York Times)President-elect Donald Trump speaks with reporters at his New Year's Eve party at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2016. (Photo: Hilary Swift / The New York Times)

President-elect Donald Trump gave a press conference on Wednesday. Yes, amazingly enough, he showed up. Most of the questions asked had to do with the latest Russia-related scandal. Here are some questions I wish he'd been asked.

1. Mr. Trump, you have expressed your doubt about the reality of climate change, famously describing it as a "Chinese hoax." Please don't say "Wrong"; we have it in print, sir. You have nominated a number of climate skeptics to high positions in your government, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet over in Ireland, you are seeking official permission to build a 13-foot-high wall around your seacoast luxury golf resort, the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel. The wall is necessary, you argue in its construction application, because otherwise, the "viability of the entire resort and its potential closure" would be in question due to rising seas and the increase in violent storms. Mr. Trump, does climate change only exist in County Clare, Ireland? Why do you seek to defend your own interests against climate change if no such thing exists?

2. Mr. Trump, you were widely criticized for refusing to release your tax returns during the campaign. The small portion of your finances that was leaked showed that you lost almost $1 billion in a single year. You have likewise maintained that there is no need for you to divest yourself from your financial holdings. Are you concerned that if you do divest, the interests you are in debt to here and around the world will come looking for that money?

3. Mr. Trump, you have voiced many times your disdain for the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration without offering specifics as to why, and you have vowed to cancel that deal. What are your reasons for wanting to cancel the deal?

4. Mr. Trump, in 2016, there were 58,037 gun-related incidents in the US resulting in 15,010 deaths and 30,586 injuries. 3,776 of those killed and injured were children and teenagers. There were 385 mass shootings. Statistics for the past two years are almost exactly the same. As president, what concrete steps will you take to stem the tide of gun violence in the United States?

5. Mr. Trump, your relationship with Vladimir Putin of Russia has raised eyebrows both here and abroad, most recently after allegations of Russian tampering with the presidential election came to light. Allegations have been raised that you are in considerable debt to Russian interests, many of whom have ties to Putin. Do you owe money to Russian businessmen, and if so, how much?

6. Romans 12:19 in the Bible states, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." Most Christians will agree this passage means that God is the only one allowed to be in the revenge business. Mr. Trump, you have made revenge upon your enemies a public cornerstone of your business model. You have made many enemies over the years -- in the press, in business, in politics and most recently within your own party -- and you stand to make more after you take office. After you become president, will you continue to execute your ethic of total retaliation against those who oppose or offend you?

7. Mr. Trump, your rise to political prominence has been paralleled by a rise in vocal activities, including incidents of violence, on the part of white nationalists, fascists and racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. Many of them openly celebrated your victory. One of your senior advisers, Steve Bannon, has deep ties to such people by way of his publication, Breitbart. In no uncertain terms, Mr. Trump, please explain your feelings toward the white nationalists, fascists and racists who seem to consider you a kindred spirit.

8. Mr. Trump, you have made it clear that you intend to effect sweeping changes in American politics and government. In order to "fix" something, one must first know how the gears work. That being said, Mr. Trump, how many members of the House of Representatives does it take to make a majority? How many members of the House are there? How many people sit in the Senate chamber? How many Supreme Court Justices are there, and who are they?

9. Mr. Trump, first you were going to build a wall between Mexico and the US and make the Mexican government pay for it. Then you were going to build the wall, have Congress (meaning US taxpayers) pay for it, and make the Mexican government pay us back. Recently you went back again to your original claim. Yet just after the election, your adviser Newt Gingrich bluntly dismissed the whole idea of the wall entirely, saying it was only an effective campaign gimmick. So which is it: When wall, whose wall, what wall or no wall? Can we file this vile, disgustingly xenophobic campaign promise next to the prosecution of Hillary Clinton?

10. Mr. Trump, your unprecedented use of social media has been a nine days wonder in American politics. What role will Twitter and social media have in your administration? Are you concerned that your off-the-cuff remarks online might someday write a check we can't cash?

The idea that Donald Trump would deign to answer any of these is far-fetched at best. But I hope some permutation of them are asked someday, if he shows up again. Asking is important, especially if no answers are forthcoming. That means they'll have to be asked again. And again. And again.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

William Rivers Pitt

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

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William Rivers Pitt | Some Questions for Mr. Trump

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

President-elect Donald Trump speaks with reporters at his New Year's Eve party at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2016. (Photo: Hilary Swift / The New York Times)President-elect Donald Trump speaks with reporters at his New Year's Eve party at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on December 31, 2016. (Photo: Hilary Swift / The New York Times)

President-elect Donald Trump gave a press conference on Wednesday. Yes, amazingly enough, he showed up. Most of the questions asked had to do with the latest Russia-related scandal. Here are some questions I wish he'd been asked.

1. Mr. Trump, you have expressed your doubt about the reality of climate change, famously describing it as a "Chinese hoax." Please don't say "Wrong"; we have it in print, sir. You have nominated a number of climate skeptics to high positions in your government, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet over in Ireland, you are seeking official permission to build a 13-foot-high wall around your seacoast luxury golf resort, the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel. The wall is necessary, you argue in its construction application, because otherwise, the "viability of the entire resort and its potential closure" would be in question due to rising seas and the increase in violent storms. Mr. Trump, does climate change only exist in County Clare, Ireland? Why do you seek to defend your own interests against climate change if no such thing exists?

2. Mr. Trump, you were widely criticized for refusing to release your tax returns during the campaign. The small portion of your finances that was leaked showed that you lost almost $1 billion in a single year. You have likewise maintained that there is no need for you to divest yourself from your financial holdings. Are you concerned that if you do divest, the interests you are in debt to here and around the world will come looking for that money?

3. Mr. Trump, you have voiced many times your disdain for the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration without offering specifics as to why, and you have vowed to cancel that deal. What are your reasons for wanting to cancel the deal?

4. Mr. Trump, in 2016, there were 58,037 gun-related incidents in the US resulting in 15,010 deaths and 30,586 injuries. 3,776 of those killed and injured were children and teenagers. There were 385 mass shootings. Statistics for the past two years are almost exactly the same. As president, what concrete steps will you take to stem the tide of gun violence in the United States?

5. Mr. Trump, your relationship with Vladimir Putin of Russia has raised eyebrows both here and abroad, most recently after allegations of Russian tampering with the presidential election came to light. Allegations have been raised that you are in considerable debt to Russian interests, many of whom have ties to Putin. Do you owe money to Russian businessmen, and if so, how much?

6. Romans 12:19 in the Bible states, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." Most Christians will agree this passage means that God is the only one allowed to be in the revenge business. Mr. Trump, you have made revenge upon your enemies a public cornerstone of your business model. You have made many enemies over the years -- in the press, in business, in politics and most recently within your own party -- and you stand to make more after you take office. After you become president, will you continue to execute your ethic of total retaliation against those who oppose or offend you?

7. Mr. Trump, your rise to political prominence has been paralleled by a rise in vocal activities, including incidents of violence, on the part of white nationalists, fascists and racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. Many of them openly celebrated your victory. One of your senior advisers, Steve Bannon, has deep ties to such people by way of his publication, Breitbart. In no uncertain terms, Mr. Trump, please explain your feelings toward the white nationalists, fascists and racists who seem to consider you a kindred spirit.

8. Mr. Trump, you have made it clear that you intend to effect sweeping changes in American politics and government. In order to "fix" something, one must first know how the gears work. That being said, Mr. Trump, how many members of the House of Representatives does it take to make a majority? How many members of the House are there? How many people sit in the Senate chamber? How many Supreme Court Justices are there, and who are they?

9. Mr. Trump, first you were going to build a wall between Mexico and the US and make the Mexican government pay for it. Then you were going to build the wall, have Congress (meaning US taxpayers) pay for it, and make the Mexican government pay us back. Recently you went back again to your original claim. Yet just after the election, your adviser Newt Gingrich bluntly dismissed the whole idea of the wall entirely, saying it was only an effective campaign gimmick. So which is it: When wall, whose wall, what wall or no wall? Can we file this vile, disgustingly xenophobic campaign promise next to the prosecution of Hillary Clinton?

10. Mr. Trump, your unprecedented use of social media has been a nine days wonder in American politics. What role will Twitter and social media have in your administration? Are you concerned that your off-the-cuff remarks online might someday write a check we can't cash?

The idea that Donald Trump would deign to answer any of these is far-fetched at best. But I hope some permutation of them are asked someday, if he shows up again. Asking is important, especially if no answers are forthcoming. That means they'll have to be asked again. And again. And again.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

William Rivers Pitt

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.