Sunday Update:

When I wrote a column on Saturday (scroll down to read it) the Washington Post had yet to report on the FBI story. Saturday night they had their own story which went onlne at 10:05 PM:

Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration

The first three paragraphs of the article paint a chilling picture of a compromised president who has something so serious to hide that only one word desribes just how serious it looks like it is: “treason.”

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.

The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

For those who don’t subscribe to The Washington Post, HUFFPOST has summarized the story here: Trump Concealed Details Of Putin Meetings From Administration Officials: Report — The Washington Post reports the president instructed his interpreter not to disclose any details of what transpired during the meeting to administration officials.

Between these stories in the two most presigious papers in the country, and the two papers Trump loves to hate, we have an example of how healthy compitition to do the best possible investigative reporting and “get the scoop” prove the wisdom of the Founders in putting freedom of the press in the First Amendment.

The New York Times builds on thier original story today in Trump Confronts the Prospect of a ‘Nonstop Political War’ for Survival” by Peter Baker. who begins his article with “So it has come to this: The president of the United States was asked over the weekend whether he is a Russian agent. And he refused to directly answer.” More:

He picked up the telephone on Saturday night to call into the Fox News show hosted by Jeanine Pirro, who participated in a campaign rally with him last fall. She asked him about the F.B.I. investigation reported by The Times with a tone of scorn.

“I’m going to ask you, are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” Ms. Pirro asked.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he answered. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written. And if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”


The Washington Post also builds on their story and the NY Times story with an important essay by Asha Rangappa, a senior lecturer at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University and a former FBI agent: “The FBI can’t neutralize a security threat if the president is the threat.” After explaining how the FBI would deal with such a threat if they were targeting any other citizen, she goes on to address the only way short of impeachment they can handle Trump:

This leaves only one option for neutralization: exposure.

Exposing the activities of a foreign intelligence service renders them ineffective, since it removes plausible deniability, which is the hallmark of covert intelligence operations. It also reveals the sources and methods that a foreign power is using, forcing them to abandon the operation. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has already utilized this avenue by bringing criminal charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for a disinformation campaign on social media and against 12 GRU officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails. This alternative has its downsides: It allows our adversaries to know what we know, enabling them to up their game the next time. (The current aggressive attempts by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to compel discovery of Mueller’s sources and methods in court is an example of this tension.) But where the national security threat is severe, the need to stop the activity immediately can outweigh the costs.

This is where Mueller’s report comes in. Until now, the American public has seen only snippets of Mueller’s investigation — those that he has chosen to make public through criminal charges. But since not all activities uncovered by a counterintelligence investigation, even those that pose a significant threat to national security, are necessarily criminal, they do not reveal the full breadth of what Mueller may have discovered. Only by laying out all of his counterintelligence findings — including what role, if any, Trump played in Russia’s intelligence operation against the United States — can the criminal charges be placed in context and the full scope of the threat be assessed.



Instead of talks to end the shutdown, the president spent at least part of his weekend defending himself against the suspicions about his affinity for Mr. Putin. He insisted that he has actually been tougher on Russia than his predecessors and that the F.B.I. was led by “losers that tried to do a number on your President.”

He picked up the telephone on Saturday night to call into the Fox News show hosted by Jeanine Pirro, who participated in a campaign rally with him last fall. She asked him about the F.B.I. investigation reported by The Times with a tone of scorn.

“I’m going to ask you, are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” Ms. Pirro asked.

“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he answered. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written. And if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”



Saturday Column

If you only read the Washington Post and don’t watch the television news or read the New York Times or other papers, and haven’t talked to your friends who do, you might not know that there’s an incredible story about a sitting president of the United States having been under suspicion for being a Russian asset, a traitor.

The New York Times has been working on this story for months and they got the scoop. It is the top story in both online and in their print edition:

Apparently jealousy is alive and thriving at The Washington Post because they ignored the story that those who watch MSNBC have been hearing about ever since it broke during the Rachel Maddow Show last night.

Here’s their print edition:

Here’s their online edition (which I pay to read) complete with wasted space on advertising, which is not worthy of a newspaper of their reputation and caliber”

Finally, at about 10:30 AM, they posted their own story with one reference to the NY Times: “The counterintelligence component of the Trump investigation was first reported by the New York Times.”

I might begrudgingly accept their advertising if they had the class and good grace to at least put a story the New York Times reporting below the fold.

There is no such tacky competition on websites. For example HUFFPOST: FBI Probed Whether Trump Was Working For Russia After Comey Firing: Report – Law enforcement officials launched an investigation into whether the president was secretly working on Russia’s behalf, according to The New York Times.

…. The Daily Beast: “Ex-FBI Officials Say Spy Inquiry into President Trump Is ‘Uncharted Territory’ — If the Times’ story is right, retired agents and officials say that means the highest levels of Justice and the FBI knew the president was—and may still be—under investigation.”

and Politico’s “Swamp Diary Week 86: FBI’s Blockbuster Probe of Trump’s Loyalty Revealed,” for example.

Even Fox News features the story albeit and not unexpectedly with a very different slant: “Trump slams ‘total sleaze’ Comey, ‘corrupt’ FBI leaders, after report bureau launched probe after director’s ouster.”

I have to give them credit for not burying the story since it is the top story on their website:

I don’t think anyone can be totally informed about national and international events if they don’t read both the New York Times and The Washington Post. I subscribe to both and understand not everyone is able to shell out about $20 a month to read all their articles and columns. Fortunately whenever either paper breaks a major story it is covered elsewhere, often minutes after it goes online on MSNBC (which happened last night), and within hours on websites like those I referenced here.

(I wrote my Capitol Hill Blue column about the story last night right after I read the NY Times article while it was being discussed on MSNBC.)

Monday Update

Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was ‘following directions’ of Russia – CNN

_______________________________________________________

Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.