How Many Trump-Putin Secret Huddles Should Be Allowed Before We Sound the Alarms?

How Many Trump-Putin Secret Huddles Should Be Allowed Before We Sound the Alarms? January 30, 2019

Well, this is not particularly shocking, given what we know about President Donald Trump’s obsessive man-crush on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s also becoming the norm. That is, finding that our president found yet, another opportunity to go around his advisers and Cabinet members, in order to engage in a cozy tête-à-tête with the former KGB agent.

It’s not just the intimate huddles, but the fact that he has shut out everyone, trusting in his own, broke brain to make decisions and decipher truth from lie, coming from a man who was trained to be a convincing liar.

What we know about Trump is that his ego, combined with his alarming lack of intellect leads him to base decisions on whoever he listened to last, whether it’s Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, or some despot he’s fan-boying over.

We know he came out of the July 2018 private meeting with Putin and threw our nation’s intelligence community under the bus, spouting Putin’s line about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The Financial Times is reporting that in November 2018, at the G20 summit in Argentina, President Trump and President Putin had another meeting.

The White House had previously acknowledged that both leaders met for an “informal” talk but didn’t disclose that Trump had no official member of his team present. Putin did have someone, though: his translator, although it’s unclear if that person wrote anything down.

Since reports from their Helsinki meeting include the news that Trump confiscated notes from his translator, in order to keep anyone, whether his foreign policy aides or administration officials from knowing what was discussed, the natural assumption should be that they were not discussing things that he wants anyone to know about.

Why are there not bigger alarms over this?

There are, however, recent reports that suggest the room may have been bugged by Finnish officials, and those transcripts turned over to our intelligence community.

We can hope, because it’s almost certain that the Russians know what was discussed.

What sort of optics are being presented, here? The man and his campaign team have been under white-hot scrutiny for the past two years, because of all those Russian connections.

I’ll ask it again: How would a Russian asset act any differently?

And yes, I understand that when I pose that question, some of my colleagues on the right roll their eyes in exasperation.

I don’t care. Under the circumstances, it’s a valid question. I get the feeling that even those who have, in the past, been less than complimentary towards Donald Trump have been worn down by the MAGA assault and feel stuck between those forces and fear of finding common ground with the left.

Residual allegiance to a party that was once the party of men like Calvin Coolidge, William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan holds them in place to a shell of what once was.

They would rather wallow in Trumpism and just play the partisan game than risk being called a “RiNo.”

Meanwhile, the well-being of our nation is at stake. While they quibble over image (party over country), a gilded toad is likely handing over the reins – as well as our position in the world – to hostile foreign powers.

How does Trump’s secretive meetings with Vladimir Putin hinder the work of our government, when it comes to foreign policy?

Shouldn’t they know what Trump and Putin are discussing? Isn’t this a national security issue?

So let’s consider what we have before us.

The 2018 G20 summit was held on November 30 and December 1. Somewhere in that time, Trump and Putin found a few minutes to get away to themselves. As it was with their other meetings, there was no one there to keep notes or advise. He has not shared what they discussed, other than some vague explanation about policy.

Hit fast forward by several weeks. Trump, much to the shock of everyone, including lawmakers and our allies in the region, announces that ISIS has been defeated in Syria and he would be ordering a “rapid withdrawal” of our troops from the region.

According to an administration official, as well as a Defense Department official, by the time the Trump blurted it out to the world, plans were already underway.

While off-balance, ISIS was anything but defeated, and any vacuum of power in the region would be filled by somebody.

So who would benefit most from the United States leaving our allies in a lurch and abandoning the area?

Russia. Russia would benefit most.

Imagine that.

While Putin praised the decision, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest.

The outcry has slowed Trump’s timetable for an “immediate” pullout of the region, but it highlights the need for transparency, when it comes to his communications with foreign leaders.

Let’s not forget. This is the same president that shared highly classified intelligence with Russia officials in May 2017, potentially risking the life of an Israeli spy embedded with ISIS.

This is the same president who, earlier Wednesday, took to Twitter to slam our intelligence community, once again, based on what he wants to be true about North Korea, and in opposition of what they say about Iran.

And now we have to wonder whose line he’s repeating?

I don’t put a lot of trust in Iran, but I do trust our intelligence community more than I trust Vladimir Putin.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Marla Hughes

    Glad you’re staying on this

  • JASmius

    I resist the labeling of Trump as a “Russian agent” because that term implies ideological affiliation. Barack Obama was more of a “Russian agent” then Trump could ever be for precisely that reason. Remember his hot mic comment to Dmitri Medvedev in the summer of 2012 to tell Putin that “I’ll have a lot more flexibility after my re-election”? Perfect example.

    Remember that Donald Trump is purely transactional and is only out for himself and nobody and nothing else, including the United States of America. Allies are only there to be used, humiliated, and discarded when of no more use to him. And what does he want more than anything in the whole, wide world? Trump Tower Moscow. He’s wanted that for over thirty years. He’ll do literally anything to attain it. Vladimir Putin knows this. He knows everything about Trump, including quite a bit we don’t know that Trump also doesn’t want us to know, especially his being up to his armpits in Russian mob money. That’s the kompromat that Putin has over Trump, and why Trump does anything that Putin tells him to do.

    Is that “treason”? No, because we’re not in a declared state of war with Russia. But it could rise to that level eventually, and probably sooner rather than later.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I just hope Mueller can present enough proof to connect enough dots to form an undeniable pattern of Trump selling out the US to Russia so any Senators voting “not guilty” at Trump’s impeachment will themselves be making a statement of “[Russian] Party – over – Principle” and loyalty to our Traitor-in-Chief.

    BTW: Does anyone here remember the commercials a decade or more ago by “Joe [The Donald] Isuzu” ? Has not Trump demonstrated the same level of integrity as “Joe Isuzu” did in his commercials ? Should Trump be trusted any more than “Joe Isuzu” ?

  • John225

    The US might not be in a declared state of war against Russia but Russia has certainly engaged in cyberwarfare against the US. The US hasn’t taken any steps to engage because it has been caught with its pants down. It has no capability to respond in kind and with Russia’s man Trump at the helm no will. In other words, the US has lost before it even started. Hilary and Obama should have been aware that a cyber-attack was imminent but they didn’t take it seriously. People are still underestimating Russia.

  • John225

    I’m not convinced Mueller will find Trumps back channel that said senators have had numerous examples of Trumps capitulation and off the books communications brazenly play out in the public domain and still cannot see, consistent disregard of his own intelligence experts, still nothing.

  • John225

    Quote “In 2014, Obama dissed Putin: “Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors—not out of strength but out of weakness.” That neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton grasped the possibility of information warfare being turned against the U.S.—even as Russia tested it under American eyes in the Ukraine in 2014—signals the sort of hubristic overconfidence that Thucydides spoke of regarding the decline of the first democratic imperialism in Athens in the 5th century BCE.”
    Quote “At a strategic February 2016 “InfoForum” in Moscow, Andrey Krutskikh, a senior Kremlin adviser, menacingly announced that Russia was planning an information assault on the November election which would be equivalent to the first Soviet nuclear explosion: “You think we are living in 2016. No, we are living in 1948. And do you know why? Because in 1949, the Soviet Union had its first atomic bomb test. And if until that moment, the Soviet Union was trying to reach agreement with [President] Truman to ban nuclear weapons, and the Americans were not taking us seriously, in 1949 everything changed and they started talking to us on an equal footing.
    “I’m warning you: We are at the verge of having ‘something’ in the information arena, which will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals.”

  • IllinoisPatriot

    I cannot believe the Intelligence communities will have been content to allow Trump and Putin to converse with no other US personnel in the room without having some back-up bugging / recording devices in place. If Trump IS conspiring, this information would be considered highly classified and would only be released during impeachment proceedings – and then only on a need-to-know basis. If Trump is NOT conspiring, at least the intelligence agencies could sleep at night and know they are not being betrayed by the President (after being publicly thrown under the bus so often).

    US tradition and custom (if not actual law) should dictate that no President be allowed to enter one-on-one negotiations with no recording or other person present in the room out of caution against treason and / or betrayal at the highest level.

    Also, I’m quite sure that while Mueller’s court documents have shown us the general direction of his findings, we do NOT know the extent and details of what he has found that implicates Trump in Cohen’s lying to Congress about his trips to meet with Russian emissaries, in Manafort’s messaging and campaign decisions to meet with the Russians, in Roger Stone’s interface with WikiLeaks to coordinate the release of DNC / Podesta emails. All such documentation, recordings, and witness statements remain closely-held within Mueller’s vaults.

    I just cannot believe that so many of Trump’s hand-picked senior campaign staff that he often described as “the Greatest” could have been such “low-level gofers” that Trump “hardly knew” after indictment without Trump being smack-dab in the middle of the entire mess, directing every move and needing to approve of every step. It is just not in Trump’s nature NOT to be a micro-manager OR to place excessive trust in individuals that he does not have dirt on to insure their “loyalty”.

    Thus, I can only conclude that any Senator that “cannot” see the corruption of Trump based on even the publicly available evidence simply does not WANT to see the truth and has some motive other than the good of the country in his heart and mind.

    Having said all that, I know that it is one thing to make the case of inference and circumstance, and quite another to be able to refute the naysayers’ excuses for each piece of evidence so they can disregard the truth that is before their face. I think this is likely what Mueller has been building up over time – the painstaking point-by-point documentation trail that leads from public events and Trump statements back through time and intermediaries to Putin – Trump meetings and Trump’s decades-old dream of Trump Tower Moscow and Trump’s decades-old practice of selling real estate to Russian officials and Russian Mob connections at vastly inflated prices as part of a money-laundering ring. Demonstrating a past history with frequent involvement of Russian state players in money laundering and other illegal activities and showing a dependence on Russian money to sustain his business financials (What documents exactly do we think the Trump Organization turned over to Mueller anyway?) would be one way of demonstrating Trump’s Kompromat status. Showing how the individual actions of Trump’s (entire?) senior campaign staff were working with the Russians to affect the 2016 election with no overlap and no gaps shows coordination of activities at the highest levels – a level of activity that should not have been possible without Trumps’ willing participation.

    Remember Mueller does not need to indict Trump for impeachment purposes and we have seen no follow-up court actions based on the answers to the questions Trump submitted to Mueller in writing. It’s unlikely Mueller WILL indict Trump since doing so will only ignite a legal fight between Trump loyalists and all others and may cause the loyalists to dig in their heels. Much easier to get the votes to impeach if it comes with a promise of no federal indictment / conviction for treason and the consequent association of all those that have cast their lot with Trump.

    Once impeached and removed from office, Trump because subject once again to State laws and jurisdictions and court decisions and there is likely more than enough evidence collected by Mueller to put Trump away for the rest of his life on just criminal charges alone that his ‘fixers’ are only now copping to.

  • TomMars

    Prior to the 2016 election I was arguing with family and friends that Trump had deep connections to Russia/oligarchs/mob/dirty money and that his foreign policy would favor authoritarians. I was not the only one. They didn’t care then and they don’t care now. They didn’t care if he was a fraud or if he cheated on taxes or bought off politicians with campaign contributions. They didn’t If he was dirty and crude and disgusting towards women or if he called names like a schoolyard bully. They didn’t care that he lacked governing experience or that he had been a Democrat and mostly associated with liberals. They didn’t care that he crashed businesses and failed to pay his obligations. Boys will be boys and businessmen will be businessmen, or something like that. I have no idea what Mueller could come up with that would change minds in any big way. If there really was organized collusion or conspiracy from the top, then Trump would have taken action to make it hard to legally prove his guilt. The lower guys will take the fall. Historically, it has been really hard to prosecute mob bosses for the biggest crimes, and this president operates like a mob boss. They get them on things like tax evasion, instead. However, Trump is no genius and that is what Mueller is hoping for—a major mistake by the boss. I would feel more confident he will find one if it were not for the fact that Putin is smart and Putin is the top mobster. Trump will likely only take the fall if it serves Putin’s interests.

  • chemical

    This right here:

    US tradition and custom (if not actual law) should dictate that no President be allowed to enter one-on-one negotiations with no recording or other person present in the room out of caution against treason and / or betrayal at the highest level.

    I’m not an expert on Constitutional Law or anything, so I don’t know if this is actually illegal or not, but for the sake of argument let’s examine this from Trump’s perspective.

    Right now he has the opposition party screaming about how he’s on Vladimir Putin’s payroll based on past actions like firing James Comey and then bragging to some Russians about that. Then, the Helsinki Summit happens. No other US official is present with this Trump-Putin meeting, meaning that when all is said and done, only Putin has the official transcript of any conversations those two allegedly had. Putin had translators present and we didn’t. That means Russia gets to control the narrative of what happened there.

    But the optics of this show just how brazen Trump is about his Russian connections. Even conservatives like yourself are criticizing it. This is also why I think Trump isn’t being blackmailed. What dirt could Russia possibly have on Trump that would cost him support? Did they catch him on tape helping a Mexican family or something?

  • John225

    If I was to speculate I also don’t think he is being blackmailed. I think he might be trading presidential favors and not just to the Russians, for what I can only guess. He went against his own intelligence advisors (bit of a pattern there) to let MBS off the hook for the Khashoggi murder. He was uniquely placed there as Khashoggi was a US resident it was up to the US to retaliate. The secret meeting in the Seychelles with the UAE officials could have been to set up back channel communications with MBS. We can only speculate.

    I read an article about how Trump lied and bluffed his way onto the Forbes 400 rich list and how he used an alter Ego called John Barron (his youngest son is Barron, he must like the name) to fool the reporter into thinking he was worth more than what he was. I think that getting on the rich list wasn’t just about ego but also to get bankers vaults to open. This does show his modus of operandi. He is basically a con-artist using deception to get himself where he wants to go so that he can monetize his position.

    As such Trumps political currency that he trades is the loyalty of his base and what they will tolerate and what lies they will swallow and there is a strong need to discredit the intelligence community.

    I wonder if he sees China, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela as opportunities to further monetize his position. North Korea could act as an intermediary for clandestine communications with China and Russia for Venezuela and Iran perhaps. For now, he is just letting China stew. His negotiating tactic seems to be upping the ante to the point where everybody is running scared before mounting a charm offensive or maybe he was just mirroring North Korea’s tactic and will apply something different to China.

  • IllinoisPatriot

    Russia’s leverage is not Trump’s fear of losing support. The leverage the Russians are applying is that Trump may lose his Moscow Tower project. This keeps Trump “in-line” doing Russia’s bidding over the requirements and expectations of his job as President. Unfortunately, the lawyers in DC have (in the interest of protecting “their own”) declared (from BOTH sides of the aisle) that a sitting President cannot be charged, indicted, convicted or punished except via impeachment and the hyper-partisanship now indicates that it will be impossible for either party to get a conviction unless they control 67 seats or more in the Senate. This can only result in each successive President becoming more and more radical and ideological – knowing they can do anything they want with no fear of impeachment because their party will block any such move to remove them and BOTH parties have now standardized the use of the office of AG to become the “legal shield” that attacks the President’s enemies and refused to prosecute his “friends”.

    Trump is so greedy and so obsessed by his “Moscow Project” that he is protecting and doing the work of Russia both to the detriment of our domestic economy and unity as well as to our relationships with our allies and our standing around the world.

    That the Republicans in Congress have chosen to throw their lot in with Trump and do not care what Trump is doing to our international standing and reputation (It’s no longer possible that they do not SEE the damage or that no one has tried to explain the damage to them) is why I and so many others have now abandoned the GOP and is why we do desperately need a conservative 3rd party based on Federalism and the return of Government to Constitutional limits instead of the Democrats desperately running to the far left’s Socialist and Communist agendas while the Trumpist/Populist/Joe Isuzu crowd in Congress (formerly the GOP) are running toward violent nationalism and isolationism with emphasis on growing the power of the President into a full-blown dictator/kingdom where the only morality would be that set by the king (as long as the king is named “Trump”).

    This is the problem I’ve had since 2018. Trump is simply not qualified (morally, ethically, spiritually, intellectually) to be President. Nor does Trump have the integrity, the honesty, the personal honor, or the credibility to inspire support or belief in his goals. Trump does not have the level-headed temperament to lead, nor does he comprehend the purpose, functionality, purpose or capabilities of the US Military or the restrictions on the use of the US Active-duty Military on domestic soil. In short, Trumps ignorance of civics and US government structure and history only contributes to his unsuitability to hold office.

    That we now see his actions proven out to be no different than the stereotypical mob bosses and foreign dictators from the movies simply proves my original assessment of Trump to have been correct.