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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Let's hope they can keep the matches away from the toddler

by digby

It's hard to believe but the big question surrounding the Trump Putin summit is whether Trump will allow any adult supervision of the talks:
Internally, administration and White House officials are fretting about the prospect of a Trump-Putin meeting that bears any resemblance to the president’s May gathering in the Oval Office with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

During that meeting, Trump divulged sensitive details of Israeli intelligence surrounding planned ISIS terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Europe. Russian government photos from the meeting—American photographers were barred from the event—portrayed what seemed to be a friendly, even lighthearted, meeting between the president and Russia’s top diplomats. 
A Wednesday report from the New York Times detailed concerns both within and outside of the administration that Trump and Putin might emerge looking like allies and friends, a sentiment that officials also relayed to The Daily Beast.

“Yeah, it’s a concern,” a third White House official, citing fallout over Trump’s May meeting, said of those potential pitfalls. “After Lavrov, it’s always a concern.”

Part of the concern stems from Trump’s tendency to shoot from the hip in tweets and public statements that frequently contradict statements from his own aides. That habit ensnared National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and his deputy Dina Powell in the aftermath of the Lavrov meeting, when they all-but-denied that Trump had divulged sensitive intelligence to the Russians, only to have the president tacitly confirm that he did hours later.

McMaster and Powell were both in the room for that meeting. And senior aides are pushing for Powell to join Hill during the president’s Putin pow-wow as well, according to administration sources. As of Wednesday, the list for those participating in the meeting had not yet been finalized.

But aides have been pushing to stack the meeting with officials who might help nudge Trump in the right direction—or at least present a more politically palatable front.

“The idea is to get as many adults in the room as humanly possible,” one senior administration official said.

Jesus. He's already said contradictory things about Russia, an anodyne American speech about respecting borders and blah, blah, blah and then telling a reporter that sure, Russia meddled in the election, well, maybe, we don't really know, and anyway other countries did it too.

Clearly, he's fine with it. They helped him and he's grateful for it. There is no other way to interpret his behavior. Whether he knew about it, or ok'd the help, either tacitly or implicitly, is still unknown. But he knows now and he's obviously happy they did it.

It's fair to wonder why he isn't saying anything "stronger" (his favorite word) at this late date. I have hesitated to speculate about blackmail but it's getting harder to discount the possibility. There is no reason why he should still be hedging about this unless he's afraid of something.