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Opinion Trump’s tweets are a distraction for something else he doesn’t want us to see

President Trump during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday.
President Trump during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Don’t breathe a word, but President Trump is up to something.

His insulting, too-dumb-to-fail comments about four female first-term members of Congress have the civilized world’s trousers in a twist, and it’s not a pretty sight.

The president tweeted that the four women of color, “who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world . . . now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

Trump's tweets telling minority congresswomen to “go back” to their countries follows a history of racism and nativism. Voters will decide if this is effective. (Video: The Washington Post)

Although Trump didn’t name the Democratic congresswomen in his tweets, it wasn’t hard to guess who his targets were: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.). All the women were born in this country, except for Omar, who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia more than 20 years ago and is a naturalized citizen. She and Tlaib are Muslim.

The Squad, as the four congresswomen are known, held a news conference Monday to decry Trump’s tweets and warn that — wait for it — his comments were a distraction. Then why not ignore them? Because, politics.

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Republicans are being shamed into condemning the president’s remarks. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struck a profile in piety and reminded Trump that his neighbor to the north welcomes immigrants and that diversity makes Canada stronger. Democrats are gleefully offended, with some calling for impeachment. And, in a weird permutation of opportunistic self-flagellation — or something — Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced that an ancestor once owned two slaves, so he supports reparations.

In other words, nothing much to see here. This is Trump being his usual nativist, racist, xenophobic and shameless self, while directing a manufactured drama in his usual, charming way. Stage left: Commentator opines that Trump is trying to lather up his perpetually lathered base ahead of the 2020 election. Stage right: Consultant avers that Trump is trying to make the four women the faces of the Democratic Party.

That certainly seems to be what Trump is doing, but The Donald doesn’t care diddly-squat about the Squad, even if, as a bonus, it has siphoned the juice from his Democratic challengers. The president’s modus operandi is as obvious as O’Rourke’s desperation: create chaos, distract the masses, look mad, take care of business.

As always, one must ask, what is the Something Else he doesn’t want us to see? Based on timing, my best guess is Jeffrey Epstein: financier, sex offender, globe-trotting gallivant and alleged sex trafficker of teenage girls.

Monday was a big day for both men. While Trump was doubling down on his controversial tweets, Epstein was attending his bail hearing. At the hearing, prosecutors revealed that the contents of a locked safe in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion allegedly included diamonds, cash — and a bogus and outdated passport with Epstein’s photograph, a different name and an address in Saudi Arabia.

Coincidence? Maybe. But, really? What’s clear is that Trump wants to distance himself from Epstein, whom he knew socially, as photos have captured . In one instance, they were reportedly the only two male guests at a party attended by a bevy of young women. That’s a pretty intimate bromance.

It’s also clear that the very private Epstein has received very special treatment despite his illegal activities, including the 2007 non-prosecution agreement negotiated by outgoing labor secretary Alexander Acosta, who on Friday agreed to step down after reports detailed his role in the sweetheart deal when he was a U.S. attorney in Miami.

The bogus passport opens a Pandora’s box of questions. Who knows what Epstein was up to? Who else might be implicated? All those diamonds and cash suggest that Epstein was prepared to leave suddenly.

Who knows? Somebody. Maybe several somebodies. But 2020 is a long way off — and anyone who was ever connected to Epstein must be sweating grenades about now.

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