The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

Trump Fumes Over Leak About Putin Call

  • In this March 20, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump speaks to the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington. The tempest over President Donald Trump's congratulatory phone call to Russia's Vladimir Putin is quickly evolving into an uproar over a White House leak about the call. The leak has sparked an internal investigation and speculation over who might be the next person forced out of the West Wing. The White House says in a statement it would be a "fireable offense and likely illegal" to leak Trump's briefing papers to the press. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • In this March 18, 2018 photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to supporters during a rally near the Kremlin in Moscow. The tempest over President Donald Trump's congratulatory phone call to Russia's Vladimir Putin is quickly evolving into an uproar over a White House leak about the call. The leak has sparked an internal investigation and speculation over who might be the next person forced out of the West Wing. The White House says in a statement it would be a "fireable offense and likely illegal" to leak Trump's briefing papers to the press.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

  • FILE - In this file photo taken on Friday, July 7, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The Kremlin said Trump called Putin to congratulate him on re-election, and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump spoke with Putin Tuesday March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, accompanied by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, right, speaks as Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson appear before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on election security on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Paralympics Athletes who competed in the 2018 Pyeonchang Winter Paralympics, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

  • President Donald Trump pauses during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Tribune Washington Bureau
Published: 3/21/2018 11:16:49 PM
Modified: 3/21/2018 11:16:49 PM

Washington — President Donald Trump and some aides were furious on Wednesday after the leak of sensitive notes for briefing the president before a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to aides and a close associate.

The leak appeared designed to embarrass Trump for congratulating rather than confronting Putin — contrary to the notes’ recommendation.

“If this story is accurate, that means someone leaked the president’s briefing papers,” said a senior White House official not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. “Leaking such information is a fireable offense and likely illegal.”

Trump spoke with Putin on Tuesday and was criticized afterward, including by Republican lawmakers, for congratulating the Russian leader on his re-election on Sunday. The president did so despite widespread outrage, including among other administration officials, that Putin’s government has subverted democracy in Russia, continues to try to disrupt U.S. elections, is committing atrocities in Syria and recently carried out an assassination attempt in Britain using a military-grade nerve agent.

The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, citing unnamed officials, that Trump ignored a warning in his briefing materials, written in capital letters, that said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

Leaking such materials is an extraordinary step, given the level of sensitivity in contacts between the president and a foreign leader, especially a geopolitical rival. The disclosure about the Putin call, however, is especially fraught, underscoring Trump’s much-criticized insistence on warm relations with Putin despite national security concerns, as well as the president’s own political and legal vulnerability amid a special counsel’s probe of Russia’s election interference.

Significantly, the leak also suggests that dismay with Trump’s stance extends to his inner circle.

Trump faced similar, but far less consequential embarrassments early in his term after the leak of transcripts of his confrontational calls with two allies, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Those leaks seemed intended to portray Trump as naive and undiplomatic. One person who speaks regularly with White House officials said the most recent leak seemed particularly geared toward “infantilizing” Trump, who has ignored numerous suggestions that he rebuke Putin.

“He doesn’t like it,” the person said of Trump. “He doesn’t like to be herded. The people that try to herd Trump don’t do well.”

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly also is said to be infuriated — “on a warpath,” according to the person in close contact with national security officials. The leak further undercuts Kelly, who has prided himself on bringing more order to the White House since arriving last summer, and on ensuring that Trump has high-quality briefing material.

“Trump’s mad enough and Kelly’s embarrassed to some extent that this is happening,” the person said. “And I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a scalp over this.”

People with knowledge of how the White House operates said the number of people who see Trump’s briefing materials is relatively small, perhaps 12 to 20 people, depending on the topic.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy