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OpinionColumnistsMichael Dobie

Let us cut through the Washington blather

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces that the G7 will be held at Trump National Doral on Thursday in Washington. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

Many memorable words were uttered this past week. Deciphering them requires a modern-day Rosetta Stone.

What he said:

"Far and away, the best physical facility for this meeting."

— Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, on President Donald Trump's decision to hold next year's G-7 meeting at Trump National Doral Miami golf resort

What he meant:

Trump doesn't care about criticism that he's using his office to enrich himself, but I can't say that, so instead I'm going to sell you on a place so perfect it's losing big money, is not even 40 percent occupied in that part of June, would be difficult to secure, would probably require a shutdown of Miami's airport, and has disgustingly hot and humid weather that time of year, which also happens to be hurricane season.

What she said:

"All roads with you lead to [Vladimir] Putin."

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Trump, during a Cabinet Room meeting

What she meant:

Vladimir Putin, a master of kompromat from his days as a KGB officer, has something on you and eventually it's going to come out because how else to explain all the wins you've given him, like pulling out of Syria, weakening NATO, taking his word over your own intelligence community's analysis of Russia's interference in the 2016 election, trying to get Russia back into the G-7, loosening Russian sanctions, and diverting nearly $800 million to your border wall from projects to help our allies defend themselves against Russia.

What he said:

"This is a great day for civilization."

— President Donald Trump, announcing a cease-fire between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds

What he meant:

This is a great day for me, because I can push back on criticism from both sides about pulling out of Syria by announcing a cease-fire, even though it gives another country's land to Turkey that isn't mine to give, essentially acquiesces to ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds, leaves many homeless, alienates our allies and destroys our trustworthiness.

What he said:

"Things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse."

— House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, on Mulvaney's admission that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine on the condition that the country pursued investigations of political opponents

What he meant:

That's so, so good because we just got that much closer to articles of impeachment.

What he said:

"We were also disappointed by the president’s direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani."

— Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the EU, in House testimony about Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's involvement in getting Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals.

What he meant:

This ship is sinking and I'm not going down with it; it's Rudy's fault.

What he said:

"I earned my spurs on the battlefield...Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor."

— Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, at the Alfred E. Smith dinner

What he meant:

Trump's insults don't bother me in the least, because everyone knows I've proved myself many times over and he's the most ignorant commander in chief I've ever served under.

What he said:

"Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments."

— Mulvaney, on admitting Trump's Ukrainian quid pro quo

What he meant:

Darn, they reported exactly what I said.

What he said:

"I took this job to do the right thing, at all times, and if that means I gotta go back to my other job, that's OK, too. There's a lot of people around here who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president."

— Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), on Mulvaney's admission of a quid pro quo on withholding aid to Ukraine and the possibility Rooney might have to support the impeachment inquiry

What he meant:

Just that.

Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday's editorial board.

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