A new report in The New York Times outlines the outlandish lengths that members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle are willing and ready to go to protect his ego — and by extension, their jobs, considering just how much of the Trump show gets run by its leader’s every whim. According to the publication, Commerce Department head Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) after a National Weather Service (NWS) office that they lead countered a blatantly false statement from Trump about the looming impacts of the recent Hurricane Dorian. Now, demands for Ross to resign are piling up from interests ranging from Congressional Democrats to the Sierra Club, who are insisting that Ross has disgraced the executive branch.
There’s no real indication he’ll listen, let alone care. Still, Democratic Virginia Congressman Don Beyer — who’s a top member of the Ways and Means Committee, among other things — bluntly asserted:
‘Wilbur Ross does not deserve the trust of the American people or a place in the Cabinet and he should be dismissed immediately.’
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) added:
‘Reporting now suggests that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross put the safety of countless Americans at risk by compromising America’s hurricane warning system just to protect the President’s ego. If these reports are true, Secretary Ross needs to take responsibility and resign.’
Countless Americans and even people in other countries rely on information from the National Weather Service to make potentially life-and-death decisions about their near future. How are they supposed to trust the information that agency and the ones around it provide if Trump and his cronies get the staffers inside to bend to their wishes just so Trump doesn’t have to admit that he was wrong? What’s more important here — protecting the president from admitting he was wrong, or protecting the lives of those who are really threatened by major storms? Why is this even a question, let alone one that can be asked to top U.S. government officials?
The Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune insisted, discussing Ross:
‘His actions, on behalf of Donald Trump, threatened to instill panic simply to give cover for Trump. Obviously, this shameless abuse of power could have devastating results now and in the future, demonstrating that Ross is unfit to continue in the cabinet and that he does not care that he is supposed to represent the American public above Trump’s fragile ego.’
The issue began when Trump falsely claimed in a tweet that Alabama was among the states that could see major impacts from the only recently departed Dorian. He’s made typos and blatant mistakes in tweets before — but Trump would not give this one up. Eventually, he appeared in an Oval Office meeting with reporters in front of a map forecasting Dorian’s effects that had a Sharpie line added to the map to include Alabama.
Behind the scenes during those days, NOAA staffers were getting told to keep quiet if pressed, and the agency even issued a public (but notably unsigned) statement throwing the NWS office that had corrected Trump under the bus. NOAA’s top scientist has since launched an internal investigation to determine whether that violated policy.
Featured Image via screenshot