We’ve had a number of disquieting reports today from President Trump’s trip to Brussels and a meeting of NATO leaders. I want to step back from the particulars and look at the larger picture.
We just saw this embarrassing spectacle of President Trump not stating an unequivocal commitment to honoring Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which requires all member state to defend another member state under attack. But Trump also returned to this issue of NATO members being behind on their payments and owing the United States huge sums of money. This is simply false. And it is a falsehood in the service of President Trump’s still not fully explained desire to undermine NATO.
You can see that last night we had what I think has to be close to an unprecedented development in a US political race. The frontrunner candidate body-slammed a reporter for pressing for an answer about the new CBO score of Trumpcare. (It’s a secondary element of this story how charged and threatening that CBO is.) I’ve seen scuffles with reporters, shoves. Jostling in a press scrum is not uncommon and occasionally someone will get knocked down. But I genuinely can’t remember anything comparable to this.
Tomorrow is the big special election for the open House seat in Montana. But something wild and really crazy apparently just happened. The GOP candidate Greg Gianforte reportedly body-slammed reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. “Body slam” is often a loosely even comically used phrase. But Jacobs’ account as well as that of witnesses seems to confirm something like a literal and unprovoked body slamming.
It’s so far in the weeds and doesn’t directly implicate or exonerate Trump. So I suspect it may somehow not get the attention it deserves. But the new report from the Post that James Comey’s decision to announce the Clinton “no charges” decision on his own in July 2016 may itself have been the product of a successful Russian disinformation campaign is simply remarkable.
President Trump has hired lawyer Marc Kasowitz as his personal lawyer in the on-going Trump-Russia probe. In itself, this is uncontroversial and unsurprising. Every modern president has hired personal lawyers – in addition the White House Counsel – when they’re part of major investigations.
But there are more details about Kasowitz.
They clashed during the 2016 campaign. But today President Trump visit Pope Francis at the Vatican, only with his family and a few top aides.
This is a very interesting passage from former CIA Director Brennan’s testimony before the House from about 20 minutes ago.
As a young analyst, I wouldn’t have had direct interaction with Andropov. But I have studied Russian intelligence activities over the years and I’ve seen it manifest in many different of our counterintelligence cases and how they have been able to get people, including inside the CIA, to become treasonous. And frequently, individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late. And that’s why, again, my radar goes up early when I see certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do, and I don’t know whether or not the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the Russian intentions as they need to be.
Let me share a few more thoughts about yesterday evening’s breaking news about President Trump’s overtures to the head of the NSA and the Director of National Intelligence.
Given what we knew already, these new details cannot be terribly surprising. Indeed, they fit a clear pattern. But they show just how far-reaching, widespread and brazen President Trump was in trying to shut down the investigation into his campaign and Russia.
The Washington Post is reporting that after James Comey confirmed the existence of ‘collusion’ investigations in Senate testimony in March, President Trump personally called the head of the NSA, Adm Michael S Rodgers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats asking them to dispute that there was any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Separately, White House officials asked top intelligence officials to intervene with Comey to shut the investigation down. Here’s our run-down.