Kelly said to be furious over leak warning Trump not to congratulate Putin

White House chief of staff John Kelly is said to be furious over a leaked memo that warned Donald Trump not to congratulate Vladimir Putin on his "re-election" as president of Russia.


Kelly intends to address the matter Wednesday as aides try to figure out who leaked the warning, the official said.  The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that Trump congratulated Putin despite warnings from multiple national security advisers and briefing materials that said "DO NOT CONGRATULATE."

"This is unacceptable," the official said, speaking about the leak that some believe was an attempt to embarrass the President and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was there for the call.

The official described anger and disappointment in the West Wing over the leak.  The White House declined to officially comment on the matter, with an official adding that they "cannot comment on alleged classified deliberative documents allegedly provided to the President."

A White House official didn't dispute to CNN Tuesday the language on the notes provided by members of Trump's National Security Council, but said Trump didn't read or see the notecard.  The official added that Trump often disregards advice in calls with foreign leaders.

Trump's comments drew significant criticism among US politicians, including by Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, a noted Russia hawk, who said "an American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections."

There are those Trump supporters claiming that he was only trolling his critics and the opposition by congratulating Putin, looking for the kind of reaction that he got.

If so, what's the point?  Make his supporters feel better that he's putting one over on the enemy?  Receive cheers from the Republican peanut gallery for sticking it to the liberals?

And this is how we make foreign policy these days?

The rest of the world doesn't care that Trump is trolling the media and the Democrats.  Outsiders see an American president congratulating an autocrat who just held a sham election.  Only third-world, banana-republic dictators play games like this – saying one thing for "domestic consumption" while telling foreign leaders something different.  These stunts come with a steep price in fostering American credibility in the world.

Does it matter politically?  Not in the slightest.  People have already made up their minds about Trump, and nothing he can do will change how anyone thinks about him.

Update from Thomas Lifson: Was Barack Obama wrong to congratulate Putin in 2012?  After all, Russian interference in our elections was going on back then, too.  Maybe Trump is trying a reset, too, except with robust sanctions already applied to Russia over its Syria misbehavior. 

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