The White House fumed Wednesday about an embarrassing leak of Donald Trump’s shock decision to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his re-election, with one official describing the disclosure as illegal.
A hunt is underway to find the person who leaked Trump’s prepared notes for the call, which included a warning “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” which he ignored.
Trump had shunned the advice of some aides in making the call Putin at all.
He then went a step further to congratulate the Russian leader on winning a fourth presidential term, despite the election being plagued by evidence of ballot stuffing, media censorship and the jailing of political opponents.
The Washington Post and others reported that staff explicitly advised Trump not to congratulate Putin and that he should condemn the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.
According to accounts from the White House and the Kremlin, Trump did neither.
The leak of such sensitive information about Oval Office deliberations points to deep frustration within the White House about his ad-hoc approach and disregard for the advice of his inner circle.
Very few officials would have known about the details of the call, only those at the very highest levels of the administration and the president himself.
Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the hunt for the leaker was underway.
One official suggested the documents preparing for the call may have been classified, making unauthorized disclosure a crime.
“We cannot comment on alleged classified deliberative documents allegedly provided to the president” a senior administration official told AFP.
The leak was undoubtedly damaging for a White House already in disarray.
Allies, most notably in Britain, were furious about Trump’s lack of solidarity after a chemical weapons attack on double agent Sergei Skripal in a small English town.
The White House waited for days before condemning the attack, which London has pinned squarely on the Kremlin and Moscow has denied.
The White House leak also compounded a major diplomatic victory for Moscow, offering Putin legitimacy while giving him a wedge to drive between western allies and within the White House itself.
Republicans in Washington were critical of Trump’s decision to congratulate Putin, but also lined up behind the president in anger about the leak.
“I don’t like that he did it, but you know what I like even less? That there is somebody close to him leaking this stuff out. If you don’t like the guy, quit!” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
George Conway reveals the impeachable offense Trump has committed out in the open
On Wednesday morning, in the run-up to open impeachment hearings in the House, conservative lawyer George Conway reminded viewers that the Ukraine scandal was not the beginning of Trump's impeachable offenses — and that his conduct in the Russia investigation should not be overlooked.
"The Mueller investigation was about what Russia — it wasn't really about Trump, as such, but because of Trump being Trump, he made it about himself," said Conway, whose wife Kellyanne Conway serves as counselor to the president. "It was really stupid of him to do that, it didn't have to be about Trump. But because he's so self-obsessed, it became about Trump, because he tried to quash the investigation. If he had just shut up about it and not tweeted 'witch hunt' six hundred times and ... just played golf for two years, there wouldn't have been a whole Volume II of the Mueller investigation showing that he had obstructed justice."
‘I thought I got shot’: Sarah Palin describes finding out by email that her husband was divorcing her
In an interview with Christian activist and author James Dobson, former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, said that she found out while checking her email inbox that her husband, Todd Palin, was seeking a divorce.
“It was devastating. I thought I got shot,” she said.
The divorce became official in September -- one week after they celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary.
Palin says the pair are still trying to repair their relationship. “We’re going through counseling now, so it’s not over, over,” she said. “Attorneys are getting rich off of us and I don’t like that whole system. It makes no sense to me.”
David Cay Johnston issues ‘a warning’ after reading ‘Anonymous’ book: Trump is stupid, crazy and dangerous
At DCReport we’ve scored an advance copy of the most anticipated book of the year, “A Warning” by “Anonymous, A Senior Trump Administration Official.” This book, which goes on sale Nov. 19, is as important, fascinating and easy to read as any book in our times.
The scariest line comes on Page 238, where the author identifies the most unwelcome visitor to the Trump White House—reason.
Crazy anecdote by idiotic tirade by telling detail gathered from behind closed doors at the White House, the author makes clear that this book is a work of duty by someone who loves America, has dedicated their life to our safety and well-being and is certain that all we hold dear is in grave danger.