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Home / World / Trump's Putin Fallout: In the White House's Turbulent Retreat Week

Trump's Putin Fallout: In the White House's Turbulent Retreat Week



The executive started early on Thursday, shortly after sunrise.

When Trump became angry and feisty in the White House residence, he fired his complaints on Twitter over the media had reported on his Helsinki summit. And since Trump refused to be intimidated, he gave security adviser John Bolton an order to convene a second summit and officially invite Putin to visit Washington.

The two presidents had already discussed the likelihood of a follow-up seminar, but already Trump's direction Thursday morning, Bolton jumped into action to make it official, making an overture to the Kremlin. Late in the afternoon, the White House announced plans for a fall summit in Washington were in progress.

The bulletin landed amidst a remarkably candid interview by National Co-director Daniel Coats at the Aspen Security Forum, which highlighted the separation and tension of Russia's policy between Trump and his government. The intelligence chief criticized Trump's performance during the Helsinki summit and took a deep breath, then offered a longer grimace ̵

1; making it clear that he had no idea about the subsequent meeting with Putin.

"That's going to be special," Coats said dryly as the crowd in Aspen, Colorado, gathered around him because he was left in the dark.

Trump and his White House were the days after Helsinki Summit unofficial walk Back Week – A daily mix of corrections and clarifications from the West Wing Any announcement designed to mitigate the global impact of the President's Russian performance in Helsinki was followed by another mishap that caused even more consternation.


White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller Attend a Cabinet Meeting The White House on July 18, 2018. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post)

Just as Trump volunteered Coming to New Jersey for the week-end trip and discussing Russia for a whole week came more bad news Friday reports have appeared, first in The New York Times, that in autumn 2016 the FBI had a record of Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen talking about payments in an attempt to silence a former Playboy centerfold who claimed an extramarital affair with Trump.

This portrait of a turbulent White House week, amid increasing concern over Trump's approach to Russia, comes from interviews with a dozen government officials and Trump associates, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak privately.

The trouble started on Monday in Helsinki, although the magnitude was not set for Trump for several hours. He returned enthusiastic about his own performance after his 46-minute free-lance press conference alongside Putin, in which he accepted Putin's refusal to accept Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election campaign. The president felt that he had shown strength, an impression supported by two friendly interviews with Fox News Channel executives before boarding Air Force One.

But about an hour after the flight, Trump's mood darkened, grim reality began as he almost consistently consumed negative news on cable television and helpers began testing pages on pages of printed statements from Republicans who cursed the president. Trump called his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to complain and he also crouched with the White House press officer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in his cabin at the front of the plane to develop strategies The first investigation focused With Trump taking Putin's side over his own intelligence community, Trump and his helpers decided that the president sent a tweet that repeated, "I have great faith in my intelligence agents."


President Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on July 16, 2018. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

But that did not silence the outcry, and the helpers knew they had a big problem.

Trump himself was baffled. He focused on his close-up impressions of Putin – strong, smart, and cunning, in Trump's estimation – and told his interlocutors that he views the Russians as a formidable adversary with whom he values ​​the interactions. He was also angry at the negative coverage in the media about a summit that he thought was a clear success. And he complained about something he considered a subliminal aspect of the election campaign: that the Democratic National Committee had its server hacked.

Trump continued to grumble over the difficult question posed by Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press. The correspondent wondered why this reporter had been called and not someone who could have asked a simpler question.

Lemire asked if Trump would condemn Russia's electoral choice in Putin's face, "with the whole world," and the president humiliated. Aides tried to explain to Trump that almost every journalist would have asked a similarly directed question at that moment.

But, as a White House official said, "If you do not like the answer, you do not like the question."

The President was still not satisfied. Later in the week, he told CNBC, "I've had some of those idiots from the media who said," Why did not you stop there, face him, go to him and start shouting at him? "I said" Are these people crazy? I want to make an agreement. "

On Tuesday morning, Trump told his friends that he did not understand what the big fuss was about, but understood his advisors, a group of them – including Vice President Pence, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Advisor Kellyanne Conway, Deputy Chief of Staff For communication Bill Shine, senior policy consultant Stephen Miller, Bolton and Sanders – met with Trump to draft an explanation he would. This afternoon, he wanted to clarify his remarks in Helsinki.

Shine, new to his job, wanted also changing the story and after a career as a Fox news manager, he focused on the images – eager for Trump to repress the image he admiringly stood beside Putin with fresh content for cable TV news.

Trump personally read first the transcript and then the video of his press conference and came with the "double-negative" statement, which he finally provided He said that when he said in Helsinki he saw no reason why the electoral chasers should be "Russian", he wanted to say "would not".

At first, the president was worried that his statement would be considered bac or that he would not accept the criticisms – the kind of concessions he wants to abhor. But senior advisors assured him that if he really wanted to say that he did not know why Russian was not to blame, he would simply offer a clarification, not speleology.

Throughout the week, Trump's verdict was appalled by his apparent inability to distinguish between Russian "interference", of which there is overwhelming evidence, and Russian "collusion" with the Trump campaign, which special adviser Robert S Mueller III still investigates, and on which the president insists did not happen. 19659028] "The biggest problem is that he believes the interference is a secret agreement," said Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.). "Nobody else believes that. I think he's very sensitive to going there because he thinks he undermines his legitimacy."

By the middle of the week, some in Trump's orbit believed he would get away relatively unscathed.

"This President has survived countless storms, and I believe his The political obituary has been written countless times and needs to be rewritten," former White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. "He broke the mold when it comes to … What would have been a showstopper for any other politician."

But there were still some showstopper. At the Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, which focused on the economy when coworkers were dispatching reporters from the room, Cecilia Vega of ABC News Trump asked if he still believed the Russians were targeting the United States.

In the midst of the chaos Trump saw Vega and pronounced a word: "No."

Sanders and other helpers in the Cabinet Room did not comment on the President's response to Vegas. But news organizations, including the Washington Post, alerted the news that Trump had once again undermined its intelligence officials warning of active Russian threats. And the White House had a fresh crisis in its hands.

Sanders attempted to reach the President, who had already gone to Andrew's base to greet the family of a secret service agent, the remains of which were returned from Scotland. The agent died after a stroke in Scotland while there as part of the president's support team. The press secretary delayed her afternoon briefing until she had an appointment with Trump and sent the President's answer.

"I talked to the president," Sanders told reporters. "He did not answer that question, he said no, he does not ask questions."

But there was another problem for the administration. Sanders was asked about Putin's suggestion that Mueller visit Moscow to interrogate Russian hackers in exchange for Russians interrogating US officials, including former Russian ambassador Michael McFaul. Trump had called Putin's proposal "an interesting idea," and Sanders did not rule it out – even though the State Department had dismissed it as "absurd."

"The President will work with his team and we will let you know when there is an announcement on this front," said Sanders, who was careful not to explain politics from the lectern before first discussing the matter with Trump ,

The episode revealed a naivety on the part of the president. White House staff regretted that Trump did not recognize the massive diplomatic and security implications of transforming Americans into an autocratic regime that detained and killed dissidents. State Department and National Security Council officials and others realized that there would be another purge.

At a meeting on Thursday morning, Trump's national security team saw that the president focused mainly on the sending Muller-to-Moscow section of the proposal – rather than a Quid Pro Quo poll by a former US ambassador. They focused on the full scope of Putin's suggestion and reiterated why it was so problematic.

Later, after discussing the matter with Trump, Sanders announced the President's final verdict and said that he did not agree with Putin's proposal "Made in sincerity."

Meanwhile, at a senior executives meeting, Conway briefed the team that Coats would be sitting in front of a gathering of thought leaders and media elite in Aspen for an interview with NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell. Conway warned her colleagues that Coats could make headlines – and she was far-sighted.

The White House had little insight into what Coats could say. The intelligence chiefs team had turned down at least one offer from a high-level White House official to prepare him for the long-planned interview, pointing out that he had known and conversed with Mitchell for years.

Coats was extremely open in the interview, sometimes questioning Trump's verdict – such as the President's decision to meet with Putin for two hours, without helpers being present except interpreters, and the gap between the President and the Revealing intelligence community. The play was all the more surprising, as Coats was nicknamed "Marcel Marceau" after the French pantomime in national security circles, because the director so rarely agreed with Mitchell.

Coats's comments were poorly received in the West Wing, where Trump advisers saw him play at Aspen's elite at the President's expense. A high-ranking White House official said, "Coats has become a villain," and recalled another colleague who suggested, "He might as well have said he is DNI for Obama."

A US official rejected the criticism, "Not in Coats & # 39; DNA," to take the spotlight, and he would never try to embarrass the president.

But the incongruent split screen was noticeable. When the White House was knocked down and struggling to emerge from a seemingly endless week of backsliding controversy, the crowd in Aspen seemed to enjoy a high-altitude party.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was in Aspen over the deterrence of foreign interference in US politics, the eventual goal of Trump's anger became a hero.

Several hundred people crammed into a roasting tent sprang up as Rosenstein entered, and many remained after his speech in the hope of a coveted souvenir: a selfie with the prosecutor monitoring the Mueller probe [19659047ShaneHarrisofAspenColoradoandJohnHudsonofWashingtoncontributedtothereport


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