Trump White House is in
May 16, 2017
Updated 5/16/17 3:55 pm with new information
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee seen here in file photo, a screenshot from live interview on MSNBC.
Today's cover of the New York Daily News. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Is the White House operating these days like the "well oiled machine" President Trump said it was not long ago?
From all outward appearances, not even close. Try a well-oiled hurricane of missteps and bad news packing 180 mph winds through the halls of the White House.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee chairman put it this way: "Obviously they're in a downward spiral right now and they've got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that's happening."
Corker, addressing the media Monday outside the Capitol added, "The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order."
The latest flap that team-Trump is reeling from is that explosive story in the Washington Post that said Trump revealed sensitive classified information to Russia’s top diplomat during an Oval Office meeting last week.
The cat that allegedly was let out of the bag
What Trump allegedly let out of the bag, according to the Post story, was closely held intelligence from a U.S. intelligence partner about an Islamic State plot to use laptop computers as possible weapons aboard commercial aircraft
That information had been provided by a U.S. ally with access to the inner workings of ISIS.
The Post story cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the exchange as the basis for the report -- officials who said they recognized that what Trump said to the Russians jeopardized this country's intelligence capabilities.
The Post story went so far as to say that homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser Thomas Bossert called the directors of the CIA and the National Security Agency afterward to do damage control and one of Bossert's employees called for that portion of the discussion stricken from internal memos as well as limited circulation of a transcript of what Trump said in order to prevent sensitive details from being further broadcast.
The news story also said the intelligence material Trump allegedly talked about was under America's highest classification levels in order to prevent it from being shared even with U.S. allies.
White House National Security Adviser says Post story was false
Trump reportedly described to the Russians elements of a specific plot and the city in ISIS controlled territory where the threat was detected.
That information was thought to be enough to help the Russians identify the source, where he information came from, according to the Post story.
If the story is accurate, it means a major embarrassment for Trump because during his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the fall he repeatedly attacked her “careless” use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State.
He said it was a careless practice that could have exposed classified information. Trump claimed that carelessness made Clinton unfit to be President.
White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said at a hastily arranged news conference outside the White House Monday evening that the Post story, "As reported is false."
He said, "At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. I was in the room, it didn’t happen,”
McMaster left after making the brief statement, without taking questions.
Post says McMaster's statement is not a denial of the facts
Interestingly, the Washington Post said this statement did not amount to a denial of the facts of the story.
Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe talked with the BBC and said the Post's story made it clear that President Trump did not disclose sources or methods.
He told the long standing British news network," Our story says that the nature of the information provided would have allowed the Russians to 'reverse engineer' to discover the sources and methods. He said so much that they could figure it out."
The Post story said the President has broad authority to declassify information so it is not likely he broke the law, even though he did allegedly share it with an adversary of the U.S. and one that allegedly interfered with the last Presidential election in order to help Trump get elected, according to US intelligence agencies.
New report says Trump tied to get former FBI Director Comey to shut down the FBI probe of Flynn and others
In the latest credibility/public relations issue to face the White House, the New York Times reported today that President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
From the Times story:
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo.
The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations."
In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.
Comey, according to the story, shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The Times said the newspaper has not viewed a copy of the memo but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.
This latest Russia probe development comes a week after Trump fired Comey over what Trump initially said was his handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while at the State Department.
There are basic questions about Trump's competency
In a new report, CNN says the latest Trump crisis over what the President allegedly said to the Russians in the Oval Office, "Is giving voice to a question whispered privately in Washington during weeks of political turmoil: Is the President up to the job?"
Once again, says the report, the credibility of the White House political operation and the efforts of its communications operation to keep up with an inexperienced President's chaotic leadership style are on the line.
"We are seeing the results of him being a bit undisciplined, impulsive, instinctive and intuitive, little patience for preparation and little patience for process," said former CIA Director Michael Hayden on "CNN Tonight" Monday.
"When he goes off script like this (it is) ultimately destructive of his own purposes," adds Haden."