Trump Congratulates Putin On ‘Election’ ‘Win’ Against Advice Of National Security Advisers

President Trump continues to obsequiously praise Russian President Vladimir Putin

Against the advice of his own national security team, President Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his victory in Sunday’s disputed elections and failed to mention Russian meddling in either the 2016 Presidential election or the upcoming midterms:

WASHINGTON — President Trump called on Tuesday to congratulate President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on his re-election, but did not raise with him the lopsided nature of his victory, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election or Moscow’s role in a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter living in Britain.

Instead, Mr. Trump kept the focus of the call on what the White House said were “shared interests” — among them, North Korea and Ukraine — overruling his national security advisers, who had urged him to raise Russia’s recent behavior.

“We had a very good call,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he had just welcomed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. “We will probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future.”

The president’s upbeat characterization came five days after his administration imposed sanctions on Russia for its interference in the election and for other “malicious cyberattacks,” the most significant action it has taken against Moscow since Mr. Trump took office. The United States also joined Britain, France and Germany in denouncing the Russian government for violating international law for the attack on the spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter Yulia.

Both actions highlighted a contradiction at the heart of the Trump presidency: the administration’s steadily tougher stance toward Russia and Mr. Trump’s own stubborn reluctance to criticize Mr. Putin.

Mr. Trump, a senior official said, signed off on the sanctions and the harsh language in the administration’s statements. But he was determined not to antagonize Mr. Putin, this person said, because he believes his leader-to-leader rapport is the only way to improve relations between the two countries.

(…)

The White House also insisted that it was not the place of the United States to question how other countries conduct their elections — a contention that is at odds with years of critical statements about foreign elections by the United States, as well as recent statements by the Trump administration about elections in Venezuela and Iran.

“What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something we can dictate to them how they operate,” said the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “We can only focus on the freeness and fairness of our elections, something we 100 percent fully support.”

Echoing the president, she went on to rail against the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“To pretend like going through this absurd process for over a year would not bring frustration seems a little bit ridiculous,” she said.

Ms. Sanders noted that other foreign leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, of Germany, had called Mr. Putin. Ms. Merkel’s office released a terse account of their call, saying she had told the Russian president, “Today, it is more important than ever to continue the dialogue with one another and to foster relations between our states and peoples.”

Republican lawmakers, even those who have resisted criticizing Mr. Trump, faulted him for congratulating Mr. Putin.

“When I look at a Russian election, what I see is a lack of credibility in tallying the results,” said the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “Calling him wouldn’t have been high on my list.”

Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was harsher.

“An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” he said in a statement. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”

Trump’s seeming obsequiousness came notwithstanding the fact that his own national security team advised him strongly not to congratulate the Russian President:

President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.

Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.

The president’s conversation with Putin, which Trump described as a “very good call,” prompted fresh criticism of his muted tone toward one of the United States’ biggest geopolitical rivals amid the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials.

Although the Trump administration has taken a tougher stance toward Russia recently — including new sanctions last week on some entities for election meddling and cyberattacks — the president has declined to forcefully join London in denouncing Moscow for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, this month. They remain critically ill.

Trump told reporters that he had offered his well wishes on Putin’s new six-year term during a conversation that covered a range of topics, including arms control and the security situations in Syria and North Korea. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Skripal’s case was not discussed. Information on Syria and North Korea was also provided to the president in writing before the call, officials said.

“We’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said of Putin, though Sanders emphasized that nothing is planned.

The White House press office declined to comment on the briefing materials given to Trump. Two people familiar with the notecards acknowledged that they included instructions not to congratulate Putin. But a senior White House official emphasized that national security adviser H.R. McMaster did not mention the issue during a telephone briefing with the president, who was in the White House residence ahead of and during his conversation with Putin.

It was not clear whether Trump read the notes, administration officials said. Trump, who initiated the call, opened it with the congratulations for Putin, one person familiar with the conversation said.

The president’s tone drew a rebuke from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who wrote on Twitter: “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.”

But Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared less concerned, noting that Trump has also offered congratulations to other leaders of more totalitarian states. “I wouldn’t read much into it,” Corker said.

Putin’s latest consolidation of power came in what foreign policy analysts said was a rigged election in which he got 76 percent of the vote against several minor candidates. Some world leaders have hesitated to congratulate Putin, since his reelection occurred in an environment of state control of much of the news media and with his most prominent opponent barred from the ballot.

Ahead of Tuesday’s phone call, national security aides provided Trump with several handwritten notecards filled with talking points to guide his conversation, as is customary for calls with foreign leaders, according to the officials with knowledge of the call, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

(…)

Trump’s failure to raise Moscow’s alleged poisoning of the former spy in Britain risked angering officials in London, who are trying to rally Britain’s closest allies to condemn the attack. Russia has denied involvement in the March 4 poisoning, but the attack has badly damaged British-Russian relations, and British Prime Minister Theresa May last week announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation.

Putin has denied that Russia had any role and called the claim “nonsense.”

Asked about McCain’s criticism, Sanders noted that the leaders of France and Germany also called Putin this week, and she pointed to former president Barack Obama, who congratulated Putin on an election win in 2012.

“We’ve been very clear in the actions that we’ve taken that we’re going to be tough on Russia, particularly when it comes to areas that we feel where they’ve stepped out of place,” Sanders said. “We’ve placed tough sanctions on Russia and a number of other things where we have shown exactly what our position is.”

She emphasized, however, that Trump is determined to establish a working relationship with Putin to tackle global challenges, including confronting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Asked whether the Trump administration believes that Russia conducted a “free and fair” election, Sanders said the administration is focused on U.S. elections.

“We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” she said. “What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something that we can dictate to them how they operate.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) distanced himself Tuesday from Trump’s congratulatory remarks.

“The president can call whomever he chooses,” McConnell said at his weekly news conference. “When I look at a Russian election, what I see is a lack of credibility in tallying the results. I’m always reminded of the election they used to have in almost every communist country where whoever the dictator was at the moment always got a huge percentage of the vote.”

According to reports, Trump made the call yesterday morning from the White House residence before he went down to the Oval Office so it’s unclear if he had even talked to his aides prior to placing the call. Additionally, while it appears that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was reportedly present during the call it’s unclear whether or not Trump had actually read the briefing cards that are mentioned in the report from The Washington Post quoted above. In fact, if past reports about the President’s decision making process are any indication, it’s quite probable that Trump did not read the cards at all because he rarely reads any of the papers put in front of him and relies almost solely on oral briefings and, apparently, whatever he happens to see on Fox & Friends and other cable news shows. Whether Trump read the briefing notes or not, though, the fact that the President chose to start the call off by congratulating the Russian President on an election win that essentially every international agency and several other nations is at best highly disputed and at worst entirely fraudulent.

It’s also notable that Trump apparently declined to take the opportunity of this phone call with Putin to mention even in passing the two issues that are the focus of most of the attention that Russia is receiving around the world right now. The first and most immediately important to the United States, of course, is the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and the prospect that they will seek to engage in similar tactics in connection with the upcoming midterm elections, both of which have been acknowledged as reality by the men that Trump himself has appointed to run the nation’s intelligence infrastructure. The second is the apparent attempted assassination of a Russian national and his daughter on British soil, which British Prime Minister Theresa May has blamed on Russia and which other British officials are saying could only have been carried out without the direct knowledge and approval of Putin himself.

Equally outrageous, of course, is the response that we got from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who refused to say whether or not the Russian elections were “free and fair.” Instead, she said that the Administration doesn’t comment on how other nations conduct their elections and that it is more concerned with the integrity of American elections. The first part of the statement is, of course, untrue at least with respect to past Administrations, which have rightly called out election irregularities in other nations on a regular basis and, at the very least, have been careful not to congratulate authoritarian rulers like Putin on alleged victories in elections that were obviously tainted by fraud and manipulation. If anything, though, the second half of Sanders’ comment is even more absurd given the fact that the President has consistently called the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election “Fake News” and sought to undermine the investigation into that meddling at every possible turn. Additionally, the Administration has taken no steps to work with the states to protect our elections from future meddling notwithstanding the warnings that have been issued about the likelihood of future meddling and our own vulnerability to such meddling.

None of this is new, of course. Trump has been especially obsequious toward Putin since long before he became President and that has only continued since he took office in January of last year. At several points during the campaign, for example, Trump boasted of his admiration for Putin’s “strong” leadership, which he compared favorably to what he claimed was the weak leadership of former President Barack Obama. When he was asked about the allegations that Putin had engaged in tactics such as arresting dissidents and having reporters and political opponents killed, Trump responded by saying that “we kill people too.” This pattern of behavior has continued since he became President, of course, and at times President Trump has been reluctant to criticize Putin and other authoritarian rulers while at the same time openly attacking elected officials of allied nations and, of course, his own intelligence community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Why this is the case is something I’ll leave for the reader to decide on their own.

 

 

 

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, Russia, Russia Investigation, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    My God, people are slow. It has been blatantly, unmistakably obvious that Trump is owned by Putin practically since the clown rode the escalator down with his trophy wife. Obvious. Unmistakable. The only answer friar Occam will allow.

    Now we have someone very close to Trump leaking this practically in real time. This leak is a warning being sent by someone who works directly for Trump. This is a cri de coeur from an invested Trumpian. The people who know Trump, are starting to figure it out. His cult remains clueless, but this is a desperate act by someone who initially sold his soul to Trump but rebels now at outright, unmistakable treason.

    And that is what it is: treason. Trump works for Putin. I’ve been saying that for what, 18 months now? Trump is OWNED by Putin. People need to start actually getting their heads around that. Maybe in another two years.




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  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I think what we are seeing is that President Dennison, renowned bully, has no balls. (Perhaps the picture Stormy Daniels has will prove that?)
    He went to Mexico and didn’t discuss the wall with their President.
    He never actually fires anyone to their face. Comey found out from a news report. Tillerson wasn’t face-to-face either.
    And of course he refuses to confront Putin.
    Even his terrible comb-over…he’s simply afraid to admit that he is bald.
    The guy is an abject coward. Most bullies are.




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  3. KM says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Even his terrible comb-over…he’s simply afraid to admit that he is bald.

    As he should be. Normally, bald is sexy but on Trump it only goes to show just how hollow his skull really is. The comb-over barely muffles the breeze you can hear whistling from between his ears….




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  4. CSK says:

    Of course Putin owns Trump. And that will become clearer and clearer now that Trump has decided to ignore all his advisors, except for a few people on Fox, who operate more as cheerleaders than advisors.




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  5. Lounsbury says:

    Smoke, fire I suppose.

    Although in the case of your orange creature, the phrase regarding attribution of malice versus stupidity comes to mind.




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  6. KM says:

    @michael reynolds:

    His cult remains clueless, but this is a desperate act by someone who initially sold his soul to Trump but rebels now at outright, unmistakable treason.

    Everyone has their limit. Once it gets shown leaking to an uncaring GOP populace doesn’t work, soft power will be disregard and drastic measures will have to be taken. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Mueller’s got live informants in the WH and things aren’t being recorded with the SS and IT just looking the other way. It will end up being the GOP that bring Trump down out of sheer preservation – when it *really* hits the fan, they’re going to want to be the ones not in cuffs but helping kick his ass out the door.




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  7. CSK says:

    @KM:

    Trump’s cult loves Putin. He’s a Christian strongman who hates gays. What could be better?




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  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Simple stupidity would yield conflicting actions, sometimes one way, sometimes the other. Trump is consistent. And he’s engaged in a cover-up, and has been from Day 1. Stupidity sometimes comes with a consciousness of guilt, but the far more likely answer is the one that seems incredible: Putin owns Trump.




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  9. al-Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    My God, people are slow. It has been blatantly, unmistakably obvious that Trump is owned by Putin practically since the clown rode the escalator down with his trophy wife. Obvious. Unmistakable. The only answer friar Occam will allow.

    Are these people slow? Maybe some of them, maybe most of them, I’m not sure.
    I think those that know, really know, are in Congress. Much of the base is intravenously fed FoxNews and alt.fact ‘news,’ so they might actually believe that Trump is playing Putin.

    This situation lays bare the Faustian Bargain that congressional Republicans have made. As long as they’re running the table – rolling back regulations, purging all evidence of the Obama administration, and getting their agenda passed – they’re willing, as hard as it’s getting be, to look the other way.

    Frankly, I’m not sure if guys like Ryan and McConnell want Trump to fire Mueller sooner rather than later.




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  10. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This doesn’t seem at all incredible to me. Russian money has been keeping Trump afloat for about 27 years now.




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  11. Kathy says:

    McCain is absolutely right. An American president doesn’t congratulate an authoritarian leader for winning a sham election. the rest of the syllogism is left as an exercise for the student.

    The US should consider replacing the seal of the president of the United States with a facepalm.




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  12. JohnMcC says:

    Certainly makes face to face meetings between our President and Kim Jung Eun seem like less of a great idea.




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  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The only other person we know was in the room with Trump is a 3-star general whose reputation has been dragged through a pile of rotten sh!t, and who learned last week that he will be fired as soon as an appropriate toady replacement can be found.

    I wonder who the leaker was.




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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    And yet 40% of the American people remain absolutely clueless. It’s of a piece with something I’ve long believed about so-called conservatives: their defining mental characteristic is an absolute absence of imagination. The inability to imagine yields lack of empathy, a lack of compassion. They can only parse the consequences of a policy or belief when it directly affects them. They simply cannot walk an idea forward and imagine how it may hurt others. (Not that they would care if it did.)

    There are two kinds of hairless primate: ones who want to see what’s over the next hill, and ones who don’t. The ones who don’t lack imagination. Imagination is what causes one to suspect that there might be a better place, a better way. Lacking imagination the conservative sits in his pigsty and defends it violently against all who suggest there might be a better way.

    The other day I was driving with the top down on my car, and an “Impeach Trump” bumper sticker. Some guy started yelling out the window, “Lyin’ Hillary! Lock her up!” The guy’s brain could not get past the former Secretary of State. The guy did not see the irony in that particular chant. The guy was just mindlessly vomiting up his Fox News brainwashing and has not been able to download an update because no one on the right has one to offer. This is the right-wing brain: devoid of imagination, devoid of originality, lacking even the sense that perhaps he should try for something original, a brain-dead automaton endlessly reciting the liturgy. No wonder so many Twitter users on the right are bots. There’s no difference between a bot and a right-winger.




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  15. inhumans99 says:

    Thehill.com has a story that John Kelly and President Trump are furious it leaked that he was advised not to congratulate Putin on his glorious win. I agree that this is the type of leak that probably came from someone close to Trump, a somebody not a nobody so yeah…folks in the White House are clearly uncomfortable with some of the actions President Trump has undertaken as President of the U.S.

    Also, when it comes to folks being owned by Russia the story coming out that Mark Zuckerberg turned to a Russian Oligarch for a 200 million infusion of cash to keep Facebook viable in its early days is disturbing. It puts the whole Cambridge Analytica thing in perspective…golly gee, we had no idea they were hoovering up user data to target ads designed to help Putin’s puppet get elected, I say sir, I had no idea…uh huh, sure they didn’t, not according to stories that they sat on this knowledge of CA’s unethical use of FB data for over 2 years.

    Of course, the biggest shocker to me is how the heck did they you know what the bed when FB had their IPO which was somewhat of a debacle. It worked out in the long-term but still…wow, it was not a smooth IPO.

    Anyway, enough of my thread drift. Ultimately, I think that folks acting surprised and clutching their pearls that President Trump showered praise on Putin are also surprised that water is wet and that touching a hot stove will burn their fingers.




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  16. Franklin says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Much of the base is intravenously fed FoxNews and alt.fact ‘news,’ so they might actually believe that Trump is playing Putin.

    You’re onto something. Many of these people have their doubts about Trump, but they get reassured by their drip. It’s like mama telling baby everything will be all right.

    No wonder Republicans often score higher on happiness scores.




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  17. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Bear in mind, too, that the guy in the car yelling “Lock her up!” looks to Trump as a savior, as someone just like him, only bigger and tougher and stronger.




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  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Yep, likely suspect. I think it could be either Kelly or McMaster, but Kelly seems to have drunk more of the Kool-Aid than McMaster.

    But are we supposed to believe that it is only now occurring to McMaster that his boss is a traitor? Or did the scales fall from his eyes only once he realized he was on the outs? Is that what it takes now to get an American general officer to act like a patriot? Do we have to threaten to fire them to get them to remember they’re Americans?

    Honest to God, of all the things I doubted about myself, it never occurred to me that I was insufficiently cynical. This last two years has drastically lowered my opinion of my fellow Americans. Nothing is more shocking to me than realizing that I have more integrity than men who’ve risen to become generals – I used to be an honest-to-God criminal, for Christ’s sake. On an integrity scale of 1-10 I’d have thought I was a rising four with aspirations to become a five. Seems now that I’m a fwcking seven or even an eight, and let me tell you, that does not bode well for civilization because I would absolutely not want me in any position inside the White House. I’m not nearly enough of a grown-up, but the people who are in the WH, full generals, now look like something I’d scrape off the sole of my shoe.

    And people wonder why I’m counting the days till I can get the hell out of this country.




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  19. James Pearce says:

    This clown….He’s unprofessional, scandal-plagued, and weak on Russia. About the only thing going for Trump, from a right-wing perspective, is that he pisses off liberals.




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  20. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Marco Rubio: ” the bigger outrage is this leak that could only come from someone in @POTUS inner circle. If you don’t like President resign, but this ongoing pattern of duplicity holds potential for serious damage to the nation ”

    Yes Marco, Loyalty to the boss trumps loyalty to the nation. Protect the boss at all cost.

    /s/




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  21. Bob@Youngstown says:

    please release from moderation…. whatta I do?




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  22. Mister Bluster says:

    Leaked hot out of the Oval Office direct to the Bluster News Bureau!

    Hello Vlad, my man! Great victory! And Bunge and JKB and Johnny Telephone send their love!




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  23. Mister Bluster says:

    Leaked hot direct to the Bluster News Bureau:

    Hello Vlad, my man! Great victory! And Bunge and JKB and Johnny Telephone send their love!




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  24. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Trump is not ‘weak on Russia.’ He’s weak on the environment. He’s weak on civil rights. He’s weak on lots of things. This is not ‘weak.’ He is in fact quite strongly defending, excusing and lauding the murdering pig in the Kremlin. In fact, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Not that he’s ‘weak on Russia’ but that this is his one area of consistency. The problem is that he is quite firm, quite committed to supporting Putin, even at the risk of his own presidency.

    Not weak, Pearce: owned. No other answer fits the facts.




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  25. Zachriel says:

    “That’s right,” said Oliver, “the guy who got car head from an L.A. road prostitute is now the moral compass of my nation.”

    ‘Daily Show’: Murdoch Scandal Gives John Oliver a ‘Schadenfreudegasm’

    “That’s right,” she said, “The porn actress who had an affair with a reality TV star is now the moral compass of my nation.”




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  26. TM01 says:

    #FFS

    It’s not like he walked over there with a big red RESET button.

    You leftists are absolutely insane.

    I can see Russia behind your couch!!




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  27. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s not that Trump is weak on civil rights, the environment, etc. It’s that none of those issues impinge on his consciousness. They literally do not matter to him. He doesn’t think about them. They’re immaterial. He thinks about his brand, his money, and his paymaster, V. Putin.




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  28. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But are we supposed to believe that it is only now occurring to McMaster that his boss is a traitor? Or did the scales fall from his eyes only once he realized he was on the outs?

    I’m calling it the Corker Effect: Politicians, or political appointees, can rediscover their spine only when there’s no next election or they’re on their way out of a post.

    The Effect can go into remission if they discover a new office they want to be elected to, or are given a new plum posting.




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  29. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:
    Actually, you already know we’re right. Yes, you do. You and Bung and the rest, you know we’re right, you’re just lying about it. You need to start preparing your next fall-back position, the one where you claim treason is no big deal. Face it: if Trump raped your daughter on the White House steps you’d excuse it. That’s the way cults work.

    But that doesn’t mean you don’t know the truth, deep down. You do. You just don’t care.




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  30. drj says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You and Bung and the rest, you know we’re right, you’re just lying about it.

    Bunge knows for sure. He knows when to obfuscate, when to distract and when to disappear. He’s actually quite canny about it, all things considered.




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  31. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @TM01:
    You voted for, and continue to support, a third rate reality TV guy for President…a guy who can’t even negotiate a deal with a porn star…and yet you have the temerity to call anyone else insane?
    Good for you.




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  32. John430 says:

    @Kathy: 2012: President Obama telephones his congratulations to Vladimir Putin on his election.




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  33. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Not weak, Pearce: owned. No other answer fits the facts.

    Putin’s got Trump out on lease. The only idiots who set a “buy” on Trump are the dumb GOP voters driven by their Hillary hatred into the arms of this bizarre charlatan.

    You’ll never convince a Trump voter he’s “weak” on the environment or civil rights. He reflects their own views on those subjects back to them.

    But every single Trump voter knows, deep down in their heart of hearts, that Trump is weak on Russia. They don’t want to believe it. They want to believe that Trump has some clever plan to outmaneuver Putin and we just haven’t seen it yet because it’s “clever” and the lamestream media lies.

    You and I know that’s BS. This, however, is not BS:

    Trump is weak on Russia. He’s not smart enough to be wary and he’s dumb enough to get thoroughly played.

    Every night Trump voters comfort themselves to sleep by reminding themselves that Hillary isn’t ever going to be president. And then they toss and turn all night knowing that someone as erratic as Trump is in the White House. That dynamic, it seems to me, should result in a very vulnerable political position….for Trump.

    And yet, that’s not the dynamic we have, is it? The dynamic we have is that Trump can kill someone on 5th avenue and his supporters would defend him endlessly. So go on with that treason stuff, see if they don’t start defending treason.

    Calm down. Trump is weak on Russia. If JKB, MBunge, and all the other cats are willing to defend a president who’s weak on Russia, I say they should be given that opportunity.

    Why do you think they should have the easier task of defending against hyperbole?




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  34. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @John430:
    Point me to where anything says that Obama’s advisors told him not to…which is what this story is about.




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  35. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    I think we’re about 80% on the same page. But this. . .

    The dynamic we have is that Trump can kill someone on 5th avenue and his supporters would defend him endlessly. So go on with that treason stuff, see if they don’t start defending treason.

    . . . does not suggest to me that we should soft-pedal charges against Trump. My job is to try and find the truth and to say it or write it. I prefer to use specific, definite language. And nothing I’m saying is hyperbole.

    Of course Bung et al will defend treason. I told Bung that months ago. But the willingness of the culties to lie is not a rationale for me doing the same. Their intractability makes them irrelevant, not a group we need to pander to. In fact, we can’t pander to them effectively because the enormity of their error simply does not allow for a dignified walk-back. There is no way we can lower the bar far enough for them to hop over it. They made a catastrophic mistake and I’m sorry, but in the end they need to face it.

    And frankly we have good historical examples of why it’s a bad idea to let bad people have a soft landing. We put up with the whole Lost Cause bullsh!t and the South still hasn’t come to grips with reality. Contrast that with Germany after WW2. We didn’t let the Germans off the hook and they genuinely cleaned up their act. Unlike the South. We soft-pedaled the Armenian genocide and Turkey still denies guilt. We refused to talk about Polish and Hungarian and Czech complicity in Soviet domination, and now much of Eastern Europe is trending fascist. We let Saddam walk away in the first Gulf War and bought genocide to the marsh arabs and a second war for our restraint.

    I am not a Sun Tzu fan, I don’t think you leave an enemy a way out. I’m a disciple of Ulysses Grant (in fact I use his name as my pseudonym) who believed in sledge-hammering the enemy night and day without let-up until they surrendered.

    The basic difference between us is that you think Democrats need to make nice with Trumpies. No, we don’t. We need to actually stand for something. We won the popular vote by 3 million and Trump has a hard ceiling of 40% – at a time where the economy is great. He has nowhere to go, no new constituency to woo. We have minorities and coastal whites not just with us, but filled with a burning fire. If you argue that we need to tone down the identity politics and focus on class politics, I’d agree with you. But that does not require us to soften criticism of Trump, quite the contrary because in addition to being a traitor he’s been the enemy of working people.




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  36. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @John430:
    Also…curious…Is there evidence that Russia had invaded America in 2012? Had Putin recently poisoned a Russian turncoat on UK soil? So you think maybe the situations might be different?




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  37. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The basic difference between us is that you think Democrats need to make nice with Trumpies.

    Well, to be fair, it’s not that I think we need to make nice with Trumpies. We need to stop giving them so much ammo. So, yes, we need to tone down the identity politics but we also need to be a little more level headed on everything else. Any old conservative Republican can nominate conservative judges and sign tax cut legislation.

    What endears Trump to them is how he makes us act. Take out the troll act and what’s left? An unprofessional know-nothing who needs to be actively managed, weak on Russia, erratic on NK, awful to our allies, and just an all around shit show.




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  38. John430 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: The POINT of Kathy’s letter was specifically about a President congratulating Putin. Regretfully, you missed the POINT of my reply. Pay attention and stay on POINT!




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  39. Raoul says:

    This is probably a stretch, but what if Trump ordered the leak as a way to attack the “Deep State”? I mean who exactly benefits from the leak? I don’t think the answer is obvious.




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  40. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: Well, you have Trump congratulating Putin. And I remember some of our leaders and members of Congress shaking hands with the Castro’s. I don’t like either one.




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  41. Mister Bluster says:

    President Pork Chop Pud not only congratulated his murdering boyfriend V. Putin he has also told us how Vlad whispered sweet nothings into his REPUBLICAN ear:

    “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam.
    “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ ” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”
    “I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added.




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  42. TM01 says:

    Readout of President’s call with Russia’s Putin

    “President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate him on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election. President Obama highlighted achievements in U.S.-Russia relations over the past three years with President Medvedev, including cooperation on Afghanistan, the conclusion and ratification of the START agreement, Russia’s recent invitation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and cooperation on Iran. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed that the successful reset in relations should be built upon during the coming years. The President said that he looked forward to hosting President-Elect Putin at the G-8 Summit in May at Camp David. The two leaders outlined areas for future cooperation, including strengthening trade and investment relations arising out of Russia’s pending accession to the WTO. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue discussions on areas where the United States and Russia have differed, including Syria aand missile defense. President Obama and President-Elect Putin agreed to continue their efforts to find common ground and remove obstacles to better relations.”

    More proof that nothing ever happened before Trump.




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  43. Zachriel says:

    @John430: President Obama telephones his congratulations to Vladimir Putin on his election.

    While the White House readout said President Obama called to congratulate Putin, he actually congratulated

    “the Russian people on the completion of the presidential elections,” but not Mr. Putin himself… and praised the new political activism by Russian citizens “exercising their constitutional right to free assembly” — a clear reference to the opposition groups that have staged antigovernment protests in Moscow.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/07/world/europe/ties-with-us-remain-strained-after-russian-election.html




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  44. James Pearce says:

    @TM01: You’re right. Obama was much better at this than Trump. Thanks for reminding us.




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  45. al-Ameda says:

    @John430:

    @Kathy: 2012: President Obama telephones his congratulations to Vladimir Putin on his election.

    So, did Putin influence the 2012 election to the favor of Obama?
    Oh well then, that explains why Obama congratulated him, right?




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