Patterico's Pontifications


About the Storage of Transcripts of Trump’s Calls with Foreign Leaders

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:45 am

New York Times:

The White House concealed some reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and foreign officials, including President Vladimir V. Putin and the Saudi royal family, in a highly classified computer system after embarrassing leaks of his conversations, according to current and former officials.

The handling of Mr. Trump’s calls with world leaders has come under scrutiny after questions over whether a transcript of a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was improperly placed into this computer system.

The latest revelations show the focus that White House officials put on safeguarding not only classified information but also delicate calls with Mr. Trump, the details of which the administration did not want leaked.

A whistle-blower complaint accuses officials of trying to “lock down” access to information about the conversation with Mr. Zelensky by improperly storing the reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call in the highly classified system after the call took place.

Some are treating this as a staggering scandal:

Meh. I’m not so sure.

You know me to be as Trump skeptical as they come. And probably no President’s calls have deserved sunlight as much as this one, due to his flagrant and shameless contempt for the rule of law, and his conflation of the interests of this country with his own personal interests.

That said, generally a President’s conversations with foreign leaders have historically been considered confidential. And while I have no problem with this particular President’s calls being revealed, the historically confidential nature of the calls is relevant here — because it suggests an innocent motive on the part of those who ordered this lockdown. (I continue to believe that the lockdown was not Trump’s idea, since he seems to think he did nothing wrong — and if he ordered it, it was probably at the behest of a more cautious subordinate. It’s also notable that although the treatment of the Ukraine transcript was initially suggested to be different from that of similar transcripts, its lockdown is part of a pattern that started after the leaks started.) The fact that Trump’s calls have been leaked in the past provides a totally legitimate reason to lock the calls down.

And guess what? Obama did this on occasion as well:

Susan “Liar” Rice complains about the treatment of the transcripts and says Trump was trying to “bury” the transcripts, but note that she admits Obama placed such transcripts on a similar lockdown at times. She claims it was done only when the discussion itself was classified. Well, maybe the discussions with Putin and MBS did involve classified information. (Of course, the discussions with Putin involving classified information may have been in the nature of “Hey, Vladimir, let me share some classified information with you” — you know, like Trump did with the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office. Which, again, is why I would personally like to see these transcripts leaked or disclosed — because although it sets a bad precedent, this guy is dangerous and we need to have maximum information about the damage he is causing every day.)

This is a distraction from the main event: Trump treating his interactions with a foreign leader as a chance to advance his own personal interests. That is in keeping with everything he does (and, by the way, yapping about “hearsay” and the allegedly changing rules regarding its use to initiate an investigation are wholly irrelevant since we have independent evidence here), and it is an impeachable offense.

Don’t count on Dems to keep their eye on the ball. Instead, they will yammer on (as Warren has) about how Kavanaugh should have been impeached also; or claim (as Paul Krugman has) that journalists are going to end up in camps.


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:59 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start:

First news item: Authorities release two child rapists instead of holding them until ICE picked them up:

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Mexican nationals were each taken into custody for separate incidents in the Tri-State Area on charges they sexually assaulted a minor.

Despite requests that the men be held in jail until officers from ICE could pick them up, local law enforcement in both states released the suspects back into the public.

Their crimes, and how their release came about:

ICE says the first man — Luciano Trejo-Dominguez – was arrested by Vineland, New Jersey police for allegedly restraining and sexually assaulting a child younger than 16 on Aug. 12.

Over the next two days, ICE and Pacific Enforcement Response Center both filed detainers to have Trejo-Dominguez held at the Cumberland County Jail. Those requests were denied and the alleged rapist was released on Aug. 23.

Trejo-Dominguez has been charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault of a victim 13-15 years-old, criminal restraint, criminal sexual contact, and endangering the welfare of a child.

The other man – Joaquin Rodriguez Quiroz – was arrested by police in New York’s Westchester County on 3rd-degree rape charges on Sept. 6.

Quiroz allegedly raped a minor under 17 years-old, which is a class-E felony in New York.

ICE again lodged a detainer request with the Westchester County Jail on Sept. 7, but the Mexican national was released after posting bond.

Second news item: Republicans want Rudy Guiliani to just shut the heck up already:

“I have great respect for Mr. Giuliani, but I said this yesterday and take it for what it’s worth: He’s wild as a March hare,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “He’s like a lot of senators, he’s kind of a free range chicken, he kind of gets out there. What he says is his business, I don’t speak for him.”

Others put it more bluntly.

“I think it would be a good thing if he would go take a vacation,” a senior GOP lawmaker told POLITICO, one of several who declined to go on the record so they could speak critically of Giuliani.

Even some of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill don’t think Giuliani is doing the president or the party any favors by being such a constant presence in the media.

“Rudy’s saying a lot of things and I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters this week.

Third news item: Rudy Guiliani has cancelled a paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week, where he was the only American scheduled to speak:

Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.

The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.

…Giuliani was set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.

Giuliani said Friday evening that he was no longer planning to attend the meeting. “I didn’t know Putin was going,” he said in a brief interview, adding in a text: “Discretion is the better part of valor.”

Note: Giuliani angrily rejected questions about whether it would be appropriate for him to attend the event at which he also appeared last year.

“I will try to not knowingly talk to a Russian until this is all over,” he retorted.

Fourth news item: Cancel culture cancels reporter who cancelled private citizen:

A Des Moines Register reporter who was let go this week over a piece that received heavy backlash has blamed “right-wing ideologues” for his firing and suggested he’d experienced oppression like “women and journalists of color” face in the industry.

Aaron Calvin’s profile on 24-year-old Iowan and impromptu philanthropist Carson King, who raised over $1 million for a children’s hospital, sparked an uproar because it had referred to a pair of racist tweets King had written as a 16-year-old high school student — tweets for which King expressed remorse.

Calvin himself said he was caught off-guard after his critics delved into his own social media history and found racist and other offensive tweets. The Register announced on Thursday that Calvin was “no longer with the paper,” as his tweets went against their employee policy.

In an interview with Buzzfeed published Friday, Calvin declared that “this event basically set my entire life on fire.”

“I was reminded by an editor to background Carson … and I found a few tweets that he published in high school that were racist jokes,” the 27-year-old reporter said. “I knew if I found them, other people would find them as well.”

Calvin insisted that “throughout this entire process,” the editors, the editorial board and Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter “knew” and “approved” the inclusion of King’s tweets in the profile.

When asked about his own tweets from 2010-2013, which included the use of the n-word, hate speech against cops and a demeaning tweet about gay marriage, Calvin called them “frankly embarrassing” and said he would not have written them today. He also insisted they were “taken out of context.”

But of course “right-wing idealogues” are to blame for Calvin *choosing* to set an innocent guy’s life on fire by exposing stupid tweets made when he was a stupid 16-year old kid, right?? If you’re a reporter who chooses to cancel someone out, and then as a result, you yourself get cancelled and then Blame Others for Your Own Irresponsible Decisions, well, I’m not losing any sleep over you being cancelled out.

Fifth news item: Sarah Jeong, the ever delightful writer who loves everyone, especially old white men, has stepped down from the NYT editorial board:

“Sarah decided to leave the editorial board in August,” deputy editorial board member Kate Kingsbury told CNN on Friday. “But we’re glad to still have her journalism and insights around technology in our pages through her work as a contributor.”

Jeong is now serving as a “contracted contributor for NYT Opinion,” CNN reported. The Times did not announce Jeong’s departure from its editorial board at the time in August.

The news regarding Jeong’s status came hours after she raised eyebrows on Twitter over her response to a columnist for The Guardian who urged against people canceling their subscription to the Times.

“I’m as frustrated with @nytimes as anyone. But an individual canceling a subscription does nothing. It’s self-indulgent. It’s not a movement or a boycott,” wrote Guardian columnist Siva Vaidhyanathan, warning that “Even if it did matter it would hurt many great journalists like @nhannahjones @sarahjeong and @jbouie.”

“You’re wrong. NYT does pay attention to subscriber cancellations,” replied Jeong. “It’s one of the metrics for ‘outrage’ that they take to distinguish between ‘real’ outrage and superficial outrage. What subscribers say can back up dissenting views inside the paper about what it should do and be.”

And finally, let’s end with a serious face-palm:

I just can’t even…

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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