Is U.S. Intelligence Treating Trump Like a Foreign Spy?

In Charles Pierce’s words, last night “The New York Times took a 40-pound dunghammer to everything the president* has said on the subject of Russian ratfcking since election night in November of 2016 and left nothing but rubble behind.”

From the NY Times:

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

About the top-secret source close to Putin:

Ultimately, several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role. That included one particularly valuable source, who was considered so sensitive that Mr. Brennan had declined to refer to it in any way in the Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration, as the Russia investigation intensified. Instead, to keep the information from being shared widely, Mr. Brennan sent reports from the source to Mr. Obama and a small group of top national security aides in a separate, white envelope to assure its security.

And the next question is, why make this public now? The answer is, as Kevin Drum says, it’s likely Trump burned those sources a long time ago.

The American intelligence community has been on edge over Trump practically from the start. But after Helsinki their hair must be on fire. This is basically a declaration of war against Trump, a public accusation that he’s known all along Putin ordered the election interference. One way or another, this is not going to end well.

Some people are alarmed.

Roll Call noted that the president’s intelligence briefings somehow dropped off the White House schedule for a couple of days.

For the second consecutive day since he broke with America’s spy agencies over Russia’s election meddling, President Donald Trump on Wednesday will not get an intelligence briefing.

The daily presidential guidance email sent out each evening by the White House initially featured only one item, an 11:30 a.m. Cabinet meeting. It was was updated Wednesday morning to include a 2 p.m. press briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump’s public schedule typically begins with a late-morning intelligence briefing in the Oval Office after his “executive time” in the White House residence, during which he tweets while watching cable news. He also uses that time to call lawmakers and friends, aides say.

The official guidance for Tuesday also did not include an intelligence briefing. Those sessions typically include senior intelligence leaders briefing Trump — and previous commanders in chief — on the top threats and developments from around the world, which can change in important ways from day to day.

There is an intelligence briefing on his schedule for today, and maybe there is an innocent explanation for the skipped briefings. But at this point it’s hard to believe anything can be innocent about the Trump White House.

Oh, and the punch line? House GOP refuses to renew election security funding as Democrats fume over Russian interference. Seriously. See also House Republicans defeat attempt to subpoena Trump interpreter.

Also, Washington is still trying to figure out what “agreements” were made at the surrender summit.

Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow yesterday that “important verbal agreements” were reached on a series of national security issues when the two leaders met one-on-one in Helsinki for more than two hours, joined only by translators. He mentioned the preservation of the New Start and INF arms control treaties and said Putin made “specific and interesting proposals” related to Syria.

“But officials at the most senior levels across the U.S. military … had little to no information Wednesday,”Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Anton Troianovski report. “At the Pentagon, as press officers remained unable to answer media questions about how the summit might impact the military, the paucity of information exposed an awkward gap in internal administration communications. … Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did not attend Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting with Trump and has not appeared in public this week or commented on the summit. …

“The uncertainty surrounding Moscow’s suggestion of some sort of new arrangement or proposal regarding Syria, in particular, was striking because Gen. Joseph Votel, who heads U.S. Central Command, is scheduled to brief reporters on Syria and other matters Thursday. … Nonmilitary officials who were provided minimal, indirect readouts expressed confidence that no agreement had been struck with Putin on Syria, and that Trump — who early this year expressed a desire to withdraw all U.S. troops from that country — made clear to Putin that no American departure was imminent.

We’ll see. I want to link to a post written by Marcy Wheeler before the surrender summit.  “I believe Trump is cornered — has allowed himself to be cornered. And in spite of everything, Trump is prepared to go alone into a meeting on Monday with Vladimir Putin — the guy wielding both carrots and sticks against Trump — and make a deal.” And that deal probably involves Syria and Trump stepping aside to allow Russia to compromise U.S. intelligence. See also “At Helsinki Summit, Putin Re-enacts the June 9 Trump Tower Meeting.”