Tempest over Trump-Putin call turns into uproar over leaks
24 March, 2018, 16:36 | Author: Jason Torres
The news that White House leakers had leaked information about an effort to stop leakers came in the Beast's report on White House infighting over outgoing Communication Director Hope Hicks' job.
In a statement, White House staff say they are conducting an investigation and that leaking presidential papers is not only a fireable offense, it's also illegal.
The tension is so rampant that it has caught the attention of Trump's inner circle.
The tweets left Trump's administration in disarray, holding two starkly contrasting positions on Russian Federation - one espoused by a Russophile president and another from a cabinet and White House more skeptical of Putin's role.
Although Trump told reporters that "probably, we'll be seeing President Putin in the not-too-distant future", several officials said there are no plans for the two even to be in the same country until November, when both are expected to attend a Group of 20 summit in Argentina. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations.
Aides had included guidance in Trump's talking points for the call to Putin stating: "DO NOT CONGRATULATE", a senior administration official said Wednesday, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official had not been authorized to discuss internal matters.
The White House said in an official statement Wednesday: "If this story is accurate, that means someone leaked the President's briefing papers".
Trump said in an interview during his presidential campaign that he believed federal employees should sign nondisclosure agreements.
It also was unclear whether Trump, who prefers oral briefings, had read the talking points prepared by his national security team before Tuesday's call.
Some lawmakers are now criticizing the president for not bringing up that issue during his call with Putin.
"An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections", said Sen. McMaster briefed the president by phone before the conversation while Trump was in the White House residence.
Trump shunned the advice of some aides in making the call in the first place, after Putin sailed to a fourth term in a vote plagued by evidence of ballot stuffing, media censorship and the jailing of political opponents.
The White House said Trump did not raise Russia's meddling in the USA elections or its suspected involvement in the recent poisoning of a former spy in Britain in the call with Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during a meeting with opposition candidates who ran against him in yesterday's presidential election, Boris Titov, Maxim Suraykin, Ksenia Sobchak, Vladimir Zhirinivsky, Pavel Grudinin, Sergei Baburin and Grigory Yavlinsky, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, March 19, 2018.
After aides leaked embarrassing details of Trump's shock decision to call Putin and congratulate him on re-election, the U.S. president blamed the media for the furor and insisted Moscow can be a solid partner.
A White House source defended the allegedly jovial nature of the Putin call to Axios.
Russian Federation has received global condemnation after Britain blamed Moscow for the recent nerve agent attack that sickened Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted that President Barack Obama made a similar call at the time of Putin's last electoral victory.
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