Opinion: Binge-watching “Trump and the Russians”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, right, share a laugh in the Oval Office with President Trump.

Let’s review, because things are really getting weird and it’s important in times such as these to keep our footing. We are witnessing a truly extraordinary series of events:

One week ago Tuesday, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the man who had been leading an investigation into Russian intervention into our election and into possible collusion between Trump associates and the Russians. As Trump would later acknowledge, he fired Comey in part because he believed that investigation was a “hoax” that had gone on long enough.

It is no hoax. U.S. intelligence agencies are adamant that the intervention occurred, that Russia was the culprit and that the intended beneficiary, witting or not, was Trump.

The morning after firing Comey, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak into the Oval Office, a rare honor for foreign officials.  The honor was especially inexplicable because Kislyak has been deeply implicated in Russia’s intervention into our democratic process, which was an assault on our sovereignty and an insult to us as a nation.

Oddly — or maybe not — Kislyak had not been included on the official White House guest list for the meeting. The only way that we know that he was there is because of photographs of the event taken by Russia state media. U.S. media were banned from the meeting.

And now, at least as reported Monday night by the Washington Post, we learn that Trump gave the Russians highly sensitive classified information collected by a U.S. ally about ISIS in the strictest of confidence, and that by doing so Trump may have compromised both our ally’s source and its willingness to share further data with the blabbermouth Americans.

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration has strongly denied the Post account, but in an odd sort of way.  It denies things that the Post story did not allege, for example by stating that Trump did not discuss any military operations, and it fails to deny things that the story did allege.

So who’s telling the truth? Is this much ado about not much, or is it one of the biggest mistakes in the handling of classified information in U.S. presidential history, as some allege? It may be easier to make that judgment than it may seem at first glance.

According to the Post story, top administration officials immediately understood the gravity of the breach committed by Trump and quickly placed calls to the CIA and NSA to warn them about what had happened. (If so, one would hope that the foreign source of that intelligence was quickly notified as well.)  In the Post version, Trump officials also ordered the crux of the president’s comments to be “stricken from internal memos and for the full transcript to be limited to a small circle of recipients,” to minimize the chance that the classified information would leak.

If true, that tells us not just a lot but everything. If the top leaders of our intel agencies had to be notified immediately, it tells us that the breach was indeed quite serious, despite claims to the contrary by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others. If the information was so sensitive that it had to be cleansed from memos and transcripts to be circulated later within top levels of the U.S. government, then it confirms that there’s no way in hell it should have been handed nonchalantly to the Russians.

Finally, if the Post’s account is true — if the NSA and CIA were notified, if the record of the meeting had to be altered — then it should be fairly easy to document those bureaucratic actions. After all, you don’t have to scramble to clean up a mess that supposedly didn’t occur in the first place.

UPDATE at 7:15 a.m.:

The pattern holds. What McMaster and others loyally attempted to deny last night has been essentially confirmed by their boss the next morning:

The shorter version of those tweets is that once again, Donald wanted Vladimir to like him, and handed him highly sensitive information as a courting gift. Great. Just … great.

 

Reader Comments 0

1284 comments
Mack Johnson
Mack Johnson

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Frankie Little Hardin
Frankie Little Hardin

He is so clearly incompetent, so clearly inept...the only wonder is those who continue to defend him.

gotalife
gotalife

Post trump is not looking good.


Force the gop to apologize to the world this time.

gotalife
gotalife

trump blew it on the first day.

Ignoring protocols and procedures in our traditions and making calls to russia .Intell recorded it all..


No experience, no brain and very unpatriotic.

Peachs
Peachs

Jason Bourne must be confused in this day and time, the CIA is the good guys and the president the bad one..

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Peachs Have any of the Bourne movies ever had a Character portraying the US president? Plenty of super villain NSA and CIA types but don't ever remember a  president being identified by name.

RandroidWillBoy
RandroidWillBoy

Big newsflash.  Can't trust the president, can't trust the press....

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@RandroidWillBoy

That's a cop-out. There are some sources that are a lot more trustworthy than others. To just blow off "the press" or, frankly, the Trump administration as if either is monolithic is absurd.

For example, yes, some stuff published in the WaPo or the NYTimes is a bit dodgy. Doesn't mean you can't trust anything coming out of those outlets.

And to state the obvious, there are some people who just tell outright lies quite comfortably working for Team Trump. And then there are some who have to work up a good head of steam and choose their words quite carefully [cough] McMaster [cough] to artfully dodge in service of the President.

And who knows--maybe that entertaining clown Adjit Pai, in charge of the FCC, really does believe we're going to see a golden age of innovation if we just get rid of net neutrality. Maybe he's just delusional, and not actually lying!

RandroidWillBoy
RandroidWillBoy

@Visual_Cortex @RandroidWillBoy


Unnamed sources, former administration, unnamed foreign source...you kidding me right?


I have to read at least 3 accounts of every story to conclude anything on my own.  


Who knows if that idiot named sources in his meeting with Russians.  Press doesn't.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Visual_Cortex

Much easier to say BSAB.  It requires thinking to determine which outlets or people are more trustworthy than others.

Gmare
Gmare

Sorry if this is a repeat; Sally Yates is on with Anderson Cooper tonight.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Gmare

CNN's also going to have a Sanders-Kasich debate at 9pm that ought to be worth a look.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

More stuff you probably missed because every week is Crazy Week.

http://bit.ly/2rnXTJc

Senate Republicans are looking at steep cuts to Medicaid that could drop millions of people from coverage and reduce programs for the poor. Under pressure to balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending on food stamps, welfare, and even veterans’ benefits through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate. If the Medicaid cutbacks get passed by both chambers, it could significantly scale back the federal-state insurance program that covers 73 million low-income or disabled Americans and shift significant costs onto hospitals and states.


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@gotalife @Visual_Cortex

It's all about redistribution of wealth upwards, of course. That mission never ends.

Hey, could you imagine an "opposition party" that actually attacked this ideology head-on, instead of making nice with the tax-cutters?

SFM_Scootter
SFM_Scootter

BEER:30 y'all! I might even visit Drunk-o-clock blogging tonight. :)

gotalife
gotalife

We are witnessing the worst ever fake president.


Thanks gop voters for nothing.


Move to russia pinkos.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

Trump probably asking himself

WWGWD ?

gotalife
gotalife

"We don't know if there is a transcript". burr.


Ask Intell, they recorded it and if they did not, they did not do their job.

gotalife
gotalife

Lets face it, we have a babbling moron pretending to be our president.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

No pretense. He has the

launch codes.

rimsky
rimsky

Trump: we had a great meeting with lavrov.  We will have a great meeting with Turkey.

Hey dum F#@CK Erdogan is standing right beside you.  Can't you pronounce his name?

HDB0329
HDB0329

@rimsky ...he's trying the come up with the next lie that he's not getting blackmailed by Turkey to protect his tower in Istanbul...

td1234
td1234

"Conway said in a statement on Tuesday:

The hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe have become virulent critics of the President and those close to him. Ignoring insults and insinuations is a valuable skill. But when sentiments are attributed to me that are not true, it is necessary to respond. My beliefs, commitments and loyalties are plain to see. The notion that I am serving for ‘the money’ or a ‘paycheck’ is absurd. As campaign manager, I made a fraction of what other consultants have made on unsuccessful presidential campaigns. Then I walked away from dozens of opportunities for millions of dollars, and instead walked into the White House. I would do it again. It is a privilege to assist President Trump in the White House, just as it was during the campaign. I know him, I respect him, I believe in him, and I am confident in his capacity to be a transformative and successful President."

HDB0329
HDB0329

@td1234 ...and if you believe that, there's an alligator in the Okefenokee waiting for you to swim into the swamp.......

td1234
td1234

@HDB0329 Are you stupid enough to believe she did not have offers to make millions of dollars instead of coming to the WH? 


If you do then you do not understand very much about the way politics works

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@td1234 She also said yes 3 million illegals voted and there was a massacre at Bowling Green


Who you going to believe ?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@td1234

Someone is stupid enough to offer her "millions of dollars"?

ROFLMAO!   

Infinite Hope
Infinite Hope

@td1234  Lol, two serial liars/cheaters pointing fingers at Conway for ratings.   Can't make this stuff up.

rimsky
rimsky

@td1234 Ignoring insults and insinuations is a valuable skill.

+++

Trump ignores insults?  which planet do you live in?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@td1234 @HDB0329 She is making millions of dollars by going to the WH


If you think she isnt you are dumber than previously thought.


She will make a nice living off this once this is all over.

gapeach101
gapeach101

@td1234 "As campaign manager, I made a fraction of what other consultants have made '      Why?

HDB0329
HDB0329

@td1234 @HDB0329 .....and that's one reason not to fall for the lie.....


...who'd want to be stupid enough to come to that nest of liars and lose what little authenticity she'd have left???

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Hedley_Lammar @td1234 @HDB0329

Exactly, which is why a lot of that rings false.

It's a pretty typical Trumpian denial. I'm sure some of what's been reported is wrong, but I seriously doubt that her reported sentiments expressed were invented out of whole cloth, either.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Infinite Hope @Hedley_Lammar @td1234

She also said that Trump's numbers looked good, before the election.

Don't try to slip away. You ok with her lying about 3 million voting illegally? You ok with her making up a massacre that never happened?

Sure sounds like it.