President Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly are furious over a leak of details of a recent phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The President, according to briefing materials, was instructed not to congratulate Putin on a recent general election victory in which he won a fourth term as Russia’s leader. The election results are seen as less than free and fair.
The words “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” were written in the briefing materials in capital letters but President Trump reportedly congratulated Putin anyway. It was also recommended that the President denounce the recent poisoning of a former Russian agent on British soil, which Great Britain and many of its allies blame the Kremlin for. The President also declined to do that.
Chief of Staff John Kelly planned to hold a meeting with White House staffers in order to find the source. The fact that only a handful of people could have known about both the contents of the President’s highly-classified materials and what was said in the phone call between he and Putin make the leaks all the more startling.
The President addressed the issue in a series of tweets the day after the information was made public.
“I called President Putin of Russia to congratulate him on his election victory (in past, Obama called him also). The Fake News Media is crazed because they wanted me to excoriate him. They are wrong! Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing…….” the President wrote in one tweet.
“…..They can help solve problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, Iran and even the coming Arms Race. Bush tried to get along, but didn’t have the “smarts.” Obama and Clinton tried, but didn’t have the energy or chemistry (remember RESET). PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!” he wrote in another.
Leaks have plagued this White House since their coming into office. It seems though that the criticism over this latest leak is being leveled more against the leaker than the President himself.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) described Trump’s call with Putin as “terribly ill-advised” but also called on the White House officials who leaked the briefing-material details to resign. “A president’s staff shouldn’t leak. In cases of principle, you may need to resign. So resign,” he said. “Do the right and honorable thing if you believe your conscience is compelled to do so and resign your position.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) echoed the same sentiments. “I don’t agree with congratulating #Putin but bigger outrage is this leak that could only come from someone in @POTUS inner circle,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “If you don’t like President resign, but this ongoing pattern of duplicity holds potential for serious damage to the nation.”