This is a picture from the Trump-Lavrov-Kislyak meeting last week. For some bizarre reason, US press was not admitted, but Russian press was. Great job on the optics White House! This sort of provocation isn’t incompetence, it’s a set-up. Maybe Trump promised Zucker continued drama, free content and great ratings for a chance at the best deal-making perch in the world–the quid pro quo for billions in free media from CNN during the election.
Propaganda moves fast these days, so as soon as I read the Journal today I knew I had to highlight ASAP what was going to come out of the controversy surrounding Trump’s conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office last week. The entire article, Trump Shared Secrets With Russians, pointed to the uncertainty at the heart of the allegations, which made me think the next step would be for the Senate to subpoena any tapes made in the Oval Office, a story line that emerged last week after Trump tweeted:
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Here are the excerpts from today’s article that make me think the message this story is supposed to implant into your subconscious is, “If only there were a way to know what really transpired in the Oval Office that day….”
Here’s the set-up:
During the meeting with the Russian officials, Mr. Trump mentioned details about Islamic State in a way that revealed enough information for the Russians to potentially compromise the source.
And here’s the he-said-she-said that will make us cry out for recordings of the conversation (emphasis added):
The White House denied on Monday that Mr. Trump disclosed any sources and methods of U.S. intelligence services or those of U.S. allies.
“I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said in a statement outside the White House….
“These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee….
“If it’s true, it’d be troubling,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.)….
“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Mr. Ryan’s spokesman, Doug Andres….
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D., Va.) said on Twitter: “If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he hadn’t confirmed the veracity of the Post’s report, but told CNN: “You never disclose sources of evidence.”…
Ninety minutes after the Post story was published, Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy—and who also sat in on the meeting with the Russian officials—denied the story on the record. She called the Post’s story “false” and said: “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also issued a denial of the Post article.
A spokesman for the Post couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, but one of the Post reporters said in a television interview that the newspaper stood by the article.
If Trump’s bizarrely self-destructive tweet threatening Comey with secret tapes didn’t make the people want Congress to demand access to any and all recordings made in the Oval Office, this article surely would. Perhaps Trump’s calls for protection for government actors from surveillance, leaks, unmasking, etc., will provide the counter-poise to demands for Oval Office tapes and dovetail in a pitched battle in Congress, as well as, of course, free prime-time content for cable news. (Coming this fall to CNN, the show DC is buzzing about: “Special Prosecutor!”)
But wait…we’re not finished yet! What the hell is this? Check out Trump’s tweets du jour:
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
Who said anything about AIRLINE DANGER???? If POTUS wants to be perceived as dangerously uncircumspect, scaring people out of the air is one way to do it. (Something is so up with the airlines right now–there’s another #WTWOF for ya–expect some major changes for US airlines.)
As I rushed to get this #WTWOF up and out and went to wsj.com to cite the article, I discovered WSJ‘s follow-up article from this morning. Toward the very end of the article I found I once again got scooped by reality!
As controversy escalates, national-security adviser says conversation was ‘wholly appropriate’
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) said the Trump administration’s initial pushback on the reports indicates the White House has a recording of the meeting.
“Clearly if there is some kind of a readout or a transcript from that meeting that means there is a tape,” Ms. Klobuchar said. “We need to get a hold of that” in the Senate.
Still, it’s not so far along we can’t watch it unfold like the scripted reality show that it is.