Gambling With Lives: Acosta Claims Trump Had ‘Dangerous Night at the Casino’

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In the aftermath of the Iranian missile attack against two U.S. bases in Iraq Tuesday evening, it appeared as though there were no U.S. casualties (as of this post's publication) and both President Trump and Iranian officials were ready to deescalate the situation. But CNN was not having it.

During an appearance on CNN Tonight, chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta insisted that Trump was backed into a corner, and could do nothing but push the United States closer to a major conflict with Iran. He even suggested Trump was gambling with the lives of U.S. troops.

After getting teed up by host Don Lemon, Acosta chided Trump’s calm and reassuring tweet to the American people after the attack. “Yeah, ‘all is well’ is the message from the President. I doubt that there are very many people in the nation’s capital who agree with that assessment. All is not well tonight,” he huffed.

Effectively gaslighting CNN’s viewers by ignoring the fact that it was Iran who began this latest back and forth after they killed an American contractor and assaulted our embassy in Baghdad, the bitter reporter asserted it was Trump who had “cranked [the temperature] all the way up and he’s been doing this for several days now.

Citing a conversation he had with an anonymous White House source, Acosta insisted Trump had “boxed himself in … with his own rhetoric” and left himself no other choice but push the country towards a broader conflict with Iran:

Obviously, the President is going to be hearing from some allies who are going to be pushing for him to retaliate in some kind of fashion. I was talking to a source close to the White House earlier this evening who said that essentially the President has built everything up to this point where he now has no other choice but to respond with some kind of massive retaliation. And that he’s going to look weak if he doesn't go down that. And so, the President boxed himself in, Don, with his own rhetoric. We’ve seen this before.

 

 

Acosta seemed to grow more and more irritated as he talked about it.

About 10 minutes later, Lemon teed up Acosta again, this time by suggesting Iran was trying to be the reasonable party and Trump was the one out of control. Acosta dug up his previous comments from an anonymous source, but this one appeared to have not spoken to the President since around Christmas.

His true feelings about the President were flaunted when he lashed out, saying, “But that this is a President who is impulsive and doesn't think through the implications of his actions. Now, that may work okay for the President when he is looking for a short term political fix on the border, when it comes to brinkmanship with China on trade, and so on, but this is a very different situation.”

The rant grew increasingly indignant to the point where Acosta was accusing the President of gambling with people’s lives:

I mean, people are saying tonight maybe the Iranians intentionally meant to hit areas away from these soldiers. My goodness. What if the Iranians had not done that? And actually taken out a lot of U.S. troops tonight. This could have been a massive catastrophe of proportions that we just can't fully appreciate. And so, this was a dangerous night at the casino for President Trump.

If he goes back to the bellicose rhetoric talking about severe consequences for Iran and so on, it suggests that we are not out of this crisis,” Acosta proclaimed, obviously more angry at Trump than the Iranians who were trying to kill Americans. This is CNN.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN Tonight
January 7, 2020
10:01:48 p.m. Eastern

DON LEMON: Jim Costa, I’m going to start with you at the White House where we just heard from the President by Twitter as well. So, Jim, he says, “so far, so good” “all is well.”

JIM ACOSTA: Yeah, “all is well” is the message from the President. I doubt that there are very many people in the nation’s capital who agree with that assessment. All is not well tonight, Don. And I think the President understands that as well. I think he's trying to turn down the temperature that, frankly, he cranked all the way up and he’s been doing this for several days now. We heard this from the President earlier today in the Oval Office when he was sitting down with the Greek prime minister and vowing to retaliate if Iran strikes back for the killing of Qasem Soleimani. President hasn't done that until this point.

I did talk to a senior administration official just a short while ago who said, Listen, we are taking a more cautious approach tonight. In the word of this official: “Now is the time for patience and restraint.” The question is whether or not that will continue here on out. Obviously, the President is going to be hearing from some allies who are going to be pushing for him to retaliate in some kind of fashion.

I was talking to a source close to the White House earlier this evening who said that essentially the President has built everything up to this point where he now has no other choice but to respond with some kind of massive retaliation. And that he’s going to look weak if he doesn't go down that.

And so, the President boxed himself in, Don, with his own rhetoric. We’ve seen this before. And the question is, how the President responds at this point. He's going to do this address tomorrow morning. We understood there might have been an address tonight. They were making some preparations. We saw some preparations underway here at the White House tonight. Ultimately, they decided not to do it. And it sounds as though they want to give this a little bit of breathing space for the President makes another statement.

(…)

10:11:32 p.m. Eastern

LEMON: Jim Acosta. I want to dig into something that you spoke about and that Jim Sciutto mentioned moments ago. The Iranians appear to be saying that they don't want further escalation. How does this very dangerous situation deescalate? You have reporting, this reporting that the President doesn't want to appear weak. You said he's backed himself into a corner. So, now what?

ACOSTA: I think that is a question, Don. I talked to a source who speaks with the President regularly. He was speaking with him over the holiday break. And described the President as somebody who is pleased with how he has handled this Iran situation so far, [h]as justified the killing of Soleimani by talking about some of the wounded at Walter Reed and some wounded veterans who are missing arms and legs and so on.

But that this is a President who is impulsive and doesn't think through the implications of his actions. Now, that may work okay for the President when he is looking for a short term political fix on the border, when it comes to brinkmanship with China on trade, and so on, but this is a very different situation.

I mean, people are saying tonight maybe the Iranians intentionally meant to hit areas away from these soldiers. My goodness. What if the Iranians had not done that? And actually taken out a lot of U.S. troops tonight. This could have been a massive catastrophe of proportions that we just can't fully appreciate. And so, this was a dangerous night at the casino for President Trump.

And I think tomorrow morning’s message, Don, is going to be critical. It is going to be critical. And I think one of the things we have to watch for is whether or not the caution that we're seeing coming from the President tonight -- coming from the President in his tweet tonight and the fact that he didn't make a statement tonight is reflected in the statement he makes tomorrow morning.

If he goes back to the bellicose rhetoric talking about severe consequences for Iran and so on, it suggests that we are not out of this crisis. If he does lower the rhetoric, perhaps it means—going back to what Jim Sciutto was saying— that perhaps both sides have gotten their hits in and perhaps both sides go back to respective corners. But, at this point, Don, as you and I both know, the President is way too unpredictable to state clearly what he intends to do at this point.

(…)

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