During an impromptu Rose Garden press conference, President Trump trotted out an uncomfortable looking Mitch McConnell to (in Trump’s words) “say a few words on the steps,” which turned into a Q&A session full of randomness. The above clip was almost a blip but contained a potentially major diplomatic slip-up on Trump’s part after a reporter asked whether Cuba could have stopped the mysterious, possibly sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats that resulted in a civilian travel warning. Without hesitation, Trump said this:
“I think Cuba knew about it, sure. I do believe Cuba’s responsible. I do believe that, and it’s a very unusual attack, as you know, but I do believe Cuba is responsible.”
Did you hear that sound? All of Obama’s attempts at normalization and repairs of U.S. and Cuban diplomatic ties may have just flushed down the toilet. The Cuban government has strenuously denied all involvement in the approximately 50 attacks that took place against U.S. diplomats, who experienced hearing loss, brain injuries, and more after hearing these sounds. Yet authorities still don’t know what caused the diplomats’ symptoms.
As a result, the State Department is conducting an investigation with the help of the U.S. Navy, but — very importantly — there has been no publicly declared determination about what group (or third government) might be responsible for the attacks. It’s obviously touchy territory, and the U.S. government has been careful not to assign blame, but a presidential finger has pointed straight toward Cuba.
UPDATE – 3:55pm EST: The State Department has now issued a statement, in which they don’t blame Cuba for the attacks, but they also don’t contradict Trump’s language:
“What we have said is that Cuba, as a host country, is responsible for the safety of our personnel in the country and that they can do more to answer questions we have yet to be able to answer.”