In Defying the Odds, we discuss social media, fake news, and Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign. The update -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.
The oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.
The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.
A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
According to the fourth former official, Trump lamented to Lavrov that “all this Russia stuff” was detrimental to good relations. Trump also complained, “I could have a great relationship with you guys, but you know, our press,” this former official said, characterizing the president’s remarks.
H.R. McMaster, the president’s then-national security adviser, repeatedly told Trump he could not trust the Russians, according to two former officials.
“What was difficult to understand was how they got a free pass on a lot of things — election security and so forth,” this former official said. “He was just very accommodating to them.”
The former official observed that Trump has “that streak of moral equivalency,” recalling how he once dismissed a question about the assassination of journalists and dissidents in Putin’s Russia by telling Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”