A little over two weeks ago, The Washington Post and New York Times published back to back reports about Trump that were so extraordinary and well-sourced, they enabled me to write the headline: Is President Trump a Kremlin Agent?
To quickly recap WaPo:
President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said.
And the NYT:
In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
Now, the Financial Times published a report that adds to this seemingly unimaginable reality we currently inhabit:
Donald Trump sat down with Vladimir Putin for several minutes of conversation at the end of an evening event at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November, with no translator or note-taker from the US side to record the dialogue between the leaders, according to people who had direct knowledge of the encounter or were briefed on it.
The discussions between the US and Russian presidents occurred at the 19th-century Colón theatre in the Argentine capital, as world leaders and their spouses or guests were streaming out of the building.
Mr Trump was accompanied by Melania Trump, his wife, but no staff, while Mr Putin was flanked by his translator. The four of them sat at a table and were among the last to leave.
This is the sixth time that Trump has met with the man who our intelligence agencies say personally directed the campaign to interfere in the 2016 election and elect President Trump. The first time they met in Germany at the 2017 G20, Trump took his interpreter’s notes and told them not to tell anyone what they heard. The second meeting came later that night at dinner, where Trump pulled up a chair next to Putin without any American compatriots at all. The third meeting came in Vietnam where Trump said he took Putin’s word that he did not interfere in our election. The fourth was the famed Helsinki summit where Trump looked completely defeated while he spewed Kremlin propaganda. The fifth encounter came in Buenos Aires during this year’s G20. The sixth meeting that the Financial Times just revealed occurred later at this same event.
The Trump White House told the Financial Times that this was simply one of several “informal” conversations that Trump had with various world leaders. A Russian government official told FT that Trump and Putin spoke for about 15 minutes about Russia’s attack in the Azov Sea that has brought them to the brink of war with Ukraine, as well as the mess in Syria. While you should not trust anything that the Kremlin says, especially on the topic of Trump (since their main goal is to mess with us as much as possible in order to cause more internal conflict in America), Trump has demonstrated in public that he is willing to let the Kremlin set the agenda when they meet.
So you cannot help but wonder why every single time that Trump speaks with Putin, he doesn’t want anyone to know what’s said. According to reporting from the most reputable news outlets in the country, we can confirm that four of Trump’s six (known) meetings with Putin came either without any non-Melania Americans whatsoever, or with a translator/note-taker who was ordered by Trump not to tell anyone what they heard.
One problem for Trump? Subpoenas exist and the Democratic-controlled House has unilateral power to send them out. The Dems could (and should) issue a subpoena to Trump’s translator in Helsinki, and the note-takers who accompanied him in Hamburg and Buenos Aires. Hell, given how many of these undisclosed meetings that Melania has been privy to (at least the 2017 G20 dinner in Hamburg and last year’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires), she should receive a subpoena so she too can tell Congress what she saw and heard transpire between our president and the leader of a foreign adversary.
This morning, President Tweets logged on and started blasting his intelligence officials, saying “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” One look at his constant complaints on Twitter and on state-run TV, and you can see how it’s an unimpeachable fact that the President of the United States views his intelligence community as an adversary. When you combine this reality with his repeated attempts to conceal his conversations with a man who the intelligence community says personally directed the 2016 attack that aimed to elect Trump, the question becomes: how is the President of the United States not at least a Kremlin asset?
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.