Donald Trump went to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his meetings with Vladimir Putin. The Washington Post is reporting that on one occasion Trump took the notes of his own interpreter. The Washington Post reports:
“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.
“As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.”
The Post story comes the day after The New York Times revealed that the F.B.I. opened an investigation into Trump to determine if he was working on behalf of the Russians.
Imagine the reaction any other time in American history to the headline in this morning’s Times. An American president investigated for possibly working with the Russians?
Front page of Saturday's NYT: "FBI INVESTIGATED IF TRUMP WORKED FOR THE RUSSIANS" pic.twitter.com/5B2vFGEjrt
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 12, 2019
The word “bombshell” is used often these days, perhaps overused, but in this case it’s warranted. There are so many great takeaways from this story already. We’ve selected a few for your reading enjoyment.
Stepping back for a minute: If no other reporting existed on Trump/Russia, the fact that the FBI started a CI investigation to determine whether or not the sitting president of the US was either comprised by or an agent of Russia, it would be the biggest political story…ever. https://t.co/RRenfxbgmH
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 12, 2019
* The U.S. intelligence community assessed Putin sought to help Trump win election.
* Reporting indicates the FBI deemed the President a possible security threat.
* Donald Trump met privately with Putin in Helsinki.
* We don’t know what happened at that meeting. pic.twitter.com/XXwNZqHhGC
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) January 13, 2019
As we digest reports the FBI investigated the President, I hope folks will sleep soundly tonight knowing this: What makes America great is the fact we have apolitical & independent institutions of justice that ensure no one is above the law. Not you. Not me. Not even a President.
— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) January 12, 2019