Trump's debate performance was a national security disaster

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Moderator Chris Wallace asks President Trump to disavow white supremacists during the first presidential debate of the 2020 election. Check out CNN Facts First here.

Posted: Sep 30, 2020 11:21 PM
Updated: Sep 30, 2020 11:21 PM

The first presidential debate on Tuesday night was a national security catastrophe. And it wasn't only the countless Americans who watched in dismay as President Donald Trump acted more like a child than a competent commander in chief -- the world was watching. Trump's debate disaster not only embarrassed our country, it made each and every one of us less safe.

At a basic level, Trump's debate performance was a metaphor for his presidency -- erratic, unhinged and untruthful. In fact, the only thing that Trump did well during the debate was lie.

Our allies and our enemies saw the President mocking not only the debate rules but also our democracy, as he dug his heels in on his refusal to say he will accept the outcome of the 2020 election.

While allies likely watched in dismay and probably continue to worry about how to fill the void left by a lack of competent US leadership, our enemies have cause to rejoice. Trump's behavior has been a critical contribution to Russia's mission to undermine the US-led world order and what Trump's own White House has described as the Chinese Communist Party's goals of discrediting democracy. The Chinese just have to re-air Trump's debate debacle, and US democracy is discredited.

The President's interruptions, lies and disjointed thoughts don't paint a picture of a sane global leader; they paint a picture of a maniac man who has access to the nuclear codes. After watching that debate, not to mention witnessing the past almost four years of his presidency, the idea that Trump is the man whom Americans elected to lead the nation is a major self-inflicted blow to any fantasy of the United States as a global leader. Rival powers like Russia and China probably cheered throughout those painful 90-plus minutes because Trump is a poster child for their propaganda about democratic decay.

But it wasn't just Trump's attitude Tuesday night that was dangerous -- it was also his rhetoric.

As an American, a security analyst and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Trump's rhetoric on White supremacy was one of the most sickening things I have listened to. Not only did he fail to forcefully condemn White supremacy when explicitly pressed by the moderator, but he essentially issued a call to action by telling the Proud Boys, a far-right group that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calls misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration, to "stand back and stand by." The Proud Boys took note and reportedly celebrated his words. (After the debate, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. and his campaign aide Jason Miller said that Trump had misspoken.)

This isn't the first time that Trump has failed to condemn White supremacists. Nor is it the first time that he has fanned the flames when it comes to dangerous domestic threats. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified that within the category of domestic terrorism, racially motivated violent extremism -- especially White supremacist threats -- is the "biggest bucket" that the FBI works on. Yet, with a perceived endorsement from the President, the Proud Boys could very well accelerate their disgusting, violent activities. To put it plainly, Trump undercut law and order -- and law enforcement -- by potentially raising a domestic terrorism threat with his rhetoric during the presidential debate.

But the Proud Boys likely weren't the only ones proud of POTUS last night -- Russia's Vladimir Putin probably was, too. Trump's inaccurate comments on election integrity sounded like a public service announcement scripted by the Kremlin.

When pressed on the facts about mail-in voting, Trump lied and spread conspiracy theories, despite the warning from the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency that foreign actors and cyber criminals are doubling down on spreading disinformation about the elections. Wray even specifically said that he worries misinformation could contribute to Americans losing confidence in our elections.

Trump was more than a megaphone for such misinformation last night. With all the access he has to US intelligence, not to mention the fact that Russian disinformation efforts are public information, Trump should know that he's helping Putin attack the United States -- but he seems not to care.

While debates have historically been a key opportunity for Americans to hear from candidates, we can't call this first engagement a debate. It was, flat out, a national security disaster.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 471092

Reported Deaths: 9165
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32160471
Hinds30628574
DeSoto29693344
Jackson23098335
Rankin21062357
Lee14515218
Madison13993264
Jones13112218
Forrest12926231
Lauderdale11301294
Lowndes10206171
Lamar10017125
Pearl River8616208
Lafayette8052136
Hancock7172111
Washington6816146
Oktibbeha6799117
Neshoba6377201
Monroe6343158
Warren6310159
Pontotoc607692
Panola6056123
Bolivar5991143
Marshall5948116
Union562385
Pike5450133
Lincoln5217129
Alcorn516288
George456466
Scott450392
Leflore4392140
Prentiss435275
Itawamba433295
Tippah432480
Simpson4251110
Copiah424784
Wayne422363
Tate4202100
Adams4184110
Yazoo412486
Sunflower4077104
Covington406591
Marion4016100
Leake390485
Coahoma387098
Newton361674
Grenada3511100
Stone343757
Tishomingo323788
Attala319685
Jasper309562
Winston299191
Clay286172
Chickasaw280564
Clarke275587
Calhoun258539
Holmes258585
Smith242246
Yalobusha216447
Tallahatchie214949
Walthall204657
Lawrence203231
Greene202645
Perry195753
Webster191642
Amite191451
Noxubee174438
Montgomery169453
Jefferson Davis164341
Carroll159437
Tunica147634
Benton138232
Kemper136939
Claiborne125534
Choctaw124424
Humphreys123037
Franklin114327
Quitman101425
Wilkinson98435
Jefferson86332
Sharkey61720
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 761865

Reported Deaths: 12856
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1087131712
Mobile696141168
Madison47959565
Baldwin35517431
Shelby34948283
Tuscaloosa32719498
Montgomery32358648
Lee21708200
Calhoun19823367
Morgan19140308
Etowah18450414
Marshall17138255
Houston15970340
St. Clair14803270
Limestone13986179
Elmore13893240
Cullman13892229
Lauderdale12986264
Talladega12235203
DeKalb11788220
Walker10110304
Autauga9416120
Blount9329149
Jackson9026132
Coffee8598153
Colbert8257160
Dale8204143
Escambia639399
Tallapoosa6315165
Covington6265153
Chilton6188128
Russell588353
Franklin560093
Chambers5182127
Dallas4595174
Marion4540114
Clarke447871
Pike441488
Geneva419499
Winston402682
Lawrence4018101
Bibb392976
Barbour335567
Marengo318878
Monroe308244
Butler307679
Pickens297366
Henry290752
Randolph290055
Hale284081
Cherokee277249
Fayette269769
Washington242244
Crenshaw229463
Clay220261
Macon212554
Cleburne207346
Lamar185538
Conecuh175237
Lowndes168156
Coosa161531
Wilcox153533
Bullock146242
Perry133132
Sumter122735
Greene118241
Choctaw71925
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