Breakdown of a Breakdown: A Day by Day Tour through the Worst Week Yet

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Breakdown of a Breakdown: A Day by Day Tour through the Worst Week Yet

The most amazing thing about this whole insane week has somehow gone under the radar. That might be because it’s obvious and simple, and in these times not many have the eyes for such things. But I do want an answer to this simple question:

Why did the White House let two senior officials into the Oval Office who six months ago were, by President Donald J. Trump’s own admission, waging cyberwarfare to destabilize the very democracy he’s now running?

Excuse me: “Running.”

But seriously: How the did senior Russian government officials who just sabotaged the White House get invited into the White House? Did Sergeys Kislyak and Lavrov publicly apologize to the United States or condemn their own government for committing one of the most damaging cyberespionage campaigns in history? Have they denounced what Vladimir Putin did?

Has Donald Trump denounced what Vladimir Putin did?

No. Mr. Trump tweeted this morning, “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do.” Note:

—The narrative has changed from “I didn’t do it” to “I have the right to do it.”
—He only mentions sharing facts.
—He doesn’t deny the Post’s report, as others did yesterday.
—He doesn’t say he didn’t share highly classified information.
—Related: It’s been reported this is much, much worse than we know right now.

Is our number-one geopolitical threat really Russia? Or is it the President of the United States? Related: Where does one begin and the other end?

Let’s try to make sense of the events of the last week and see if we can better understand this enormous scandal, which has now become the lamest, most incompetent coverup in human history. To do it, we’ll walk through the week together, day by day.

Note: I’m going to put RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK in all caps, just so you see how much he comes up in this thing.

Trump did it, is my point. Now, day one:

Monday: The Yates/Clapper Hearing

Believe it or not, this was Monday. Sally Yates and James Clapper took the stand in front of the Senate subcommittee on crime and terrorism and answered a lot of questions about Mike Flynn, who is, like a shockingly high number of senior government officials involved in this thing, a complete moron.

Flynn lied about so much shit I can’t even begin to explain it. He was a foreign agent and didn’t report that. He got paid $500,000 during the campaign for representing Turkey. He lied on his 2016 security clearance application about receiving money from a speech he gave in Russia. (Sitting next to Putin.)

At the August 17 intel briefing, Trump’s first, where he learned the intel community believed Russia had done the hacking, Flynn flipped out about the news and had to be held back by Chris Christie. After the election, Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn, because of his Russia connections. A few weeks later, the head of Trump’s national security transition unit grew worried about Flynn’s coziness with RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK and printed out the CIA profile on KISLYAK so Flynn would know what he was getting into. (As if he didn’t.) Then Flynn and Jared Kushner secretly sneaked RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK into Trump Tower.

Later that month, Flynn spoke to RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK on the phone about sanctions, when Flynn was in the Dominican Republic and KISLYAK was in DC, which was caught on tape. Then Flynn lied about that to everybody, and the Vice President told those lies to everybody again, and when Sally Yates told the Trump team they requested the raw intelligence, they fired her and didn’t do anything until the story was leaked to the press 18 days later. And somehow Pence didn’t know anything about any of this until the story broke.

Then, just two days after Mr. Trump learned Gen. Flynn was on tape talking about sanctions with Kislyak, which he’d lied about, Mr. Trump invited Gen. Flynn join him on his first call with Vladimir Putin. The recording was turned off in the middle of the call. A full transcript wasn’t provided.

We also learned that some European allies (whom Trump betrayed to the Russians a few days ago, in the Oval Office, on camera) had been sending us intelligence on Trump campaign interactions with the Russian government. James Clapper confirmed that story.

This evidence, by the way, led the U.S. Treasury Department to begin a money laundering criminal investigation into the Trump campaign last spring. Reuters revealed this March that about 60 people with Russian passports have bought $100 million worth of Trump properties in south Florida alone. More on that in a bit.

In response to the Yates hearing, though, Trump once again tweets the lie that James Clapper said there’s no evidence of collusion. NO. He didn’t say that. James Clapper said he hadn’t seen any evidence, but James Clapper hadn’t even been told about the investigation until Comey testified in March. Fun fact: A congressman on the House intel committee says he has seen classified evidence of collusion.

Tuesday: Comey’s Fired

Ah yes. Day two: Mr. Trump fires James Comey. This was a crazy, fast-moving story with lots of moving parts. Here’s a brief rundown of why Comey was fired, according to Donald Trump himself:

He was investigating Donald Trump for treason.

Okay, A Little More Info

Here’s a simplified reenactment of what really happened:

TRUMP: I really gotta figure out how to get Comey off my back with this Russia thing. I know! I’ll fire him.
JEFF SESSIONS: You can’t fire the person investigating you. It would look like an abuse of power and might actually be illegal.
TRUMP: Drat. Do you have any ideas?
JEFF SESSIONS: I’d love to fire him for you, Don. And I could, because I’m his boss, except I lied to Congress under oath about meeting RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK in my office in Congress and also on a trip to the RNC this summer, which I paid for illegally with my own campaign money. Oh, and then I spoke to Ambassador Kislyak on the phone in my office on September 13, the same day WikiLeaks dumped more DNC emails. Oh yeah and I also saw Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel last April, Donny, where you met him, too, because he was sitting right in front of you when you gave the speech about how you wanted to be friendly to Russia and forgive them about the Ukraine and all that. So anyway I can’t fire Comey because I said I had to stay out of this Trump-Russia thing entirely for being a liar. It would sure look bad if I fired the head of that investigation!
SESSIONS: But I’ve got an idea: My Deputy Attorney General can fire him!
TRUMP: Make it happen, General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III!

So, Sessions has the DAG Rod Rosenstein draw up a memo about why Comey should get fired. Rosenstein drafted a doozy, but he never once recommended taking any action. Instead, he wrote about how Comey maligned poor Hillary Clinton, the farthest thing from Russia.

But Trump’s letter to Comey said that Rosenstein and Sessions both recommended he fire Comey. This isn’t true: Rosenstein, a 32-year veteran of the DOJ, never made the recommendation.

Why is that important? Because when Sessions made the call to fire Comey he was interfering, in just about the most flagrant possible way, with the investigation he recused himself from. Sure sounds like that might be obstruction of justice to me. Rosenstein set Sessions up.

If you’re bitching about Rosenstein being a coward and not assigning a special prosecutor, my bet is that things have moved so quickly this last week, we might not even need one. Rosenstein is by all accounts a stand-up fellow. He’s been in the administration for three weeks. And yesterday, the night we learned Trump revealed classified intelligence to the Russians, Rosenstein, a veteran, bipartisan man of the law said, “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

That should scare the shit out of Mr. Trump. After all, we also learned this investigation has been making progress.

Progress, you say? Wednesday.

The day after Trump canned James Comey, a Virginia grand jury subpoenaed associates of Michael Flynn for business records related to the Trump-Russia investigation.

Yes: A federal grand jury has been called in Trump-Russia. Several have reportedly been convened in the past few weeks, in Virginia and in a state case in New York.

Does this sound like “no evidence exists”?

Later that day, Michael Flynn himself is subpoenaed by the United States Senate. His lawyer submitted a letter saying Gen. Flynn was refusing to comply with the Senate’s request for documents relating to dealings with Trump and Russia. The Senate subpoenaed those documents and will see Mr. Flynn face-to-face soon.

The Senate has also requested documents from Paul Manafort (former Trump campaign manager; under FBI investigation, and allegedly a wiretap; he resigned two days after Trump’s first intel briefing, where he was informed the FBI and CIA knew Russia was hacking the election); Carter Page (a rabbit-like nitwit currently frozen with fear; former Trump adviser who traveled to Moscow in July, where he gave a speech and allegedly met with Russian intel; Page also met RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK at the RNC the same night Sessions did; Page flew to Moscow the day of a major oil deal that was purportedly in the offing to the Trump campaign in exchange for lifting sanctions; the FBI has been reportedly recording Page’s insane conversations for nine months straight); and finally Roger Stone (trashy Trump adviser who bragged he communicated with Julian Assange and the person, Guccifer 2.0, who hacked the DNC and Podesta; FBI reportedly got a wire on him, too).

We’re not done with Wednesday yet.

So here’s a great idea: The day after Mr. Trump fired the guy who was investigating him for colluding with Russia, Mr. Trump invites the Russians he’s being investigated for colluding with into the Oval Office! The very same Russians who committed what’s been defined as cyberwarfare on our democratic process just a few months back. Mr. Trump apparently invited them at the suggestion of Mr. Putin (weird!). Better yet, Mr. Trump bars all American media from the meeting (weird!) but welcomes state-run Russian media, with all their electronic equipment, into the Oval Office (weird!).

We weren’t provided with much information on what they all talked about (yet), but we did see some nice pictures of Trump yukking it up with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK in the Russian press. The Russian press, by the way, trolled Trump with those pictures. The White House said that the Russians promised they wouldn’t publish them, but “they tricked us.” Weird!


This was the day Donald Trump lost all energy to keep up appearances or even just speak lie words. He flat-out told NBC News, knowingly, on camera, that he fired Comey because he wanted to shut down the Russia investigation. He really said this. Of course, the president can fire the FBI director for any reason. Perfectly legal, and that’s what Trump did: He fired the guy who was investigating him. If all of us could only be so lucky.

And yes, you remember right: That Rosenstein memo about Clinton? Fake news. Trump threw it all out the window and for some reason told Lester Holt he’d actually been planning this for “a long time,” and that it was about “that Russia thing.”

Now, here’s something: In Trump’s severance letter to Comey, Trump claims Comey told him on three separate occasions that Trump himself wasn’t the subject of an investigation. Perhaps Mr. Trump got scared a week earlier when Comey said this under oath:

In his May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey was pressed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to say whether the FBI had “ruled out the president of the United States” as a subject of the investigation.
“I don’t—I don’t want people to over-interpret this answer, I’m not going to comment on anyone in particular, because that puts me down a slope of—because if I say no to that, then I have to answer succeeding questions,” Comey replied.

Again: Comey refused to say he had not ruled Trump out as a suspect.

But back to Thursday: That night we also learned that Mr. Trump had asked James Comey for his loyalty over dinner on January 27. The New York Times gives us perhaps the best two sentences of its Trump coverage to date: “As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.”

Comey didn’t pledge loyalty, because this isn’t an autocracy. He pledged honesty, and that did him in.

Friday: Trump Spells “Tapes” Correctly

Trump has, predictably, another early-morning, diet-pill-fueled Twitter fit. This time, clearly upset by the story the night before that he’d asked Comey’s loyalty, he threatens Comey.

Sean Spicer was of course asked whether Mr. Trump was taping meetings. Spicey said Mr. Trump “had nothing to add on the topic.” I want to note Mr. Trump is notorious for bugging his own properties, and his own employees have often feared they were being recorded.

First, if we can't get the pee pee tape, I'd certainly settle for tapes of Trump telling James Comey how big his crowds are and then demanding of him a super-Constitutional pledge of loyalty. But the man clearly has no respect for or even basic grasp of the concept of American democracy. He's learning too much all at once, and it's fighting all the stuff he thought he knew but is now clearly wrong, and it's rendering him in a constant state of shock. This should scare you.

On Friday morning Trump also tweeted the following:

He also tweeted about a rocket that a student group named after him. He told the students that the rocket “better work well.”

Later that day the Senate requested the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Unit share the records they have on Trump’s business dealings with Russia. The DOT, which has reportedly been investigating Trump for money laundering for more than a year now, is complying. Also, Mr. Trump’s law firm sent a letter to the Senate refusing to provide his tax returns. The letter said Mr. Trump has “no income” from Russia, “with few exceptions.” Trump’s law firm won a “Russian Law Firm of the Year” award. Last year.

Among those exceptions are a $100 million dollar house sale and $20 million for holding the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, where, allegedly, Mr. Trump paid to watch ladies do certain things to each other on a certain bed.

The Weekend.

Nothing much happened, actually. Trump camp went dark. But it’s about to get darker.

Monday, again.

And here we are. Today multiple U.S. officials told The Washington Post that Donald Trump revealed “highly classified” information to the Russian Foreign Minister, the RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEY KISLYAK.

In the Oval Office.

In front of an entourage of Russian “cameramen.”

Yes: The day after Trump fired James Comey for investigating him for colluding to sabotage the United States, Mr. Trump invites the people he’s suspected of colluding with to sabotage the United States into the Oval Office, where he proceeds to “reveal more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies,” as one official source told The Post.

Gen. H.R. McMaster, who was in the room at the time, said “the story as reported is false.” That’s not the same as saying the story is false, however. One explanation is that the information concerned an Islamic State attack plot, a plot first identified about two months ago and attributed in all initial reports to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that’s very much not the Islamic State. My geopolitical firm shared that analysis. I imagine what’s “false” here is the name of the group. Either the Post’s source purposefully gave the wrong name to throw a red herring, or the paper itself chose to run the wrong name for the same reason. Either way, Gen. McMaster was almost certainly speaking not for Trump, but to reassure our allies.

Because that’s the most disgusting part. This classified information wasn’t really Trump’s to tell: It was collected by a close ally, who trusts us. And Mr. Trump, by telling the Russians, out of malice or incompetence, might have well endangered our ally’s source. Endangered lives. For instance, Mr. Trump gave the name of the city where the intel came from. The Russians, it’s said, could rather easily compare this information to the intel they already have, and might be able to track down the source or possible sources, or at the least monitor the area and shut down our ally’s ability to work there undercover.

The website Lawfare blog, run by national security experts and former members of the intelligence community, said “This is perhaps the gravest allegation of presidential misconduct in the scandal-ridden four months of the Trump administration.” Alan Dershowitz went further, saying it was the gravest allegation ever leveled at a sitting president.

Lawfare went on to say that Trump might well have breached his oath of office. And there might be legal complications. Lots of people have pointed out that Trump can declassify information any time he wants, but again, this wasn’t his to declassify. This was information that belonged to an ally, which they shared with us. This is much more complicated and, if you think about it, way more unethical. This is the kind of thing that can destroy years of trust, and can permanently corrode a critical relationship between heads of state.

The most damning question: Did Mr. Trump, who takes his briefings in bullet points and pictures, even know this information was classified?

And to what end? To brag stupidly? Perhaps. But perhaps, given everything you’ve read up until now, this was intentional. And isn’t it sad we can’t tell whether this person is just an idiot, or suffering from mental and emotional deterioration, or whether he’s a hollow, callow, frightened man, desperate to prove his loyalty to the man who owns him. The man he alerted when we attacked Syria before he even alerted Congress. The man who got his own officials into the Oval Office with a single phone call. The one man on the planet Donald Trump hasn’t said anything bad about. The man who subverted, and is still subverting, day after day after goddamned day, our democracy.

So again I ask you:

Why did the White House let two senior Russian officials into the Oval Office who six months ago were, by President Trump’s own admission, waging cyberwarfare against the United States?

And the follow-up:

Is our number-one geopolitical threat really Russia? Or is it the President of the United States? Where does one begin and the other end?

Bill Clinton got impeached for lying about a blow job. GOP: Do your duty to your country, you cowards. Impeach Donald Trump.

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