Thursday, September 8, 2016


Trump insinuates very clearly that his goal was to shake up the Mexican government.

Donald Trump’s thoroughly strange claim about his Mexico visit.

Donald Trump made the case Wednesday night that he would be a studied and steady commander-in-chief during an NBC forum -- the first matchup between him and Hillary Clinton on the same stage of the 2016 general election.

While making that case, though, Trump offered this pretty odd argument about his visit to Mexico last week, which has apparently led to the resignation of the country's finance minister who arranged the visit:

MATT LAUER: When you're commander-in-chief, you can spark a conflict, you can destabilize a region, you can put American lives at risk. Can we afford to take that risk with you?

TRUMP: Well, I think absolutely. I think if you saw what happened in Mexico the other day, where I went there, I had great relationships, everything else. I let them know where the United States stands. I mean, we've been badly hurt by Mexico, both on the border and with taking all of our jobs or a big percentage of our jobs.

And if you look at what happened, look at the aftermath today, where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That's how well we did.

Lauer didn't press Trump on this answer, but it left all kinds of unanswered questions.

First, Trump says he let Mexico know "where the United States stands." This despite his not having raised one of his signature foreign policy promises -- to have Mexico pay for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is a curious claim given that Trump still apparently disagrees with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on whether the idea was brought up at the meeting. And his decision not to broach it -- the Trump campaign says it was neither the time nor the place -- doesn't exactly bolster Trump's claims to being a strong negotiator or his intention of making his bold ideas into a reality.

Mostly, though, it's an odd claim because Trump insinuates very clearly that his goal was to shake up the Mexican government. "And if you look at what happened, look at the aftermath today where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That's how well we did," he said.

The United States's ally and neighbor to the south will probably be surprised to hear that Trump's aim in visiting their country was to undercut its leaders and force them to resign -- particularly a close confidante of Peña Nieto's like now-former finance minister Luis Videgaray. Trump hadn't previously indicated that this was his goal in visiting the country. And Peña Nieto, embattled as he is, surely won't appreciate the idea that this trip was planned with the hope of sparking further upheaval in his administration.

But given the controversy that Trump's visit to Mexico has caused, perhaps this is his effort to try and put a good face on it. 'You see, this is what I was hoping would happen,' is basically what he was saying Wednesday. It's very Trump.

But there's no evidence this was truly his goal. And if it was his goal, it seems to be a pretty odd one.

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