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President Trump and Russian Officials’ Meeting Full of Controversies: What We Know So Far

President Trump met with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States last week and it currently holds the title of being the most controversial meeting of the week.

Trump’s meeting with the Russian officials came after Trump scandalously fired FBI director James Comey amid an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation on the president regarding an alleged espionage between his campaign and Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.

Allegations of Trump disclosing ISIS info to Russian Officials

Many speculations have been made whether he truly disclosed closely guarded information about an Islamic State plot or not, but Trump took to Twitter the affirm the allegations.

News publications, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, reveal that according to current and former White House Officials, Trump’s disclosures may have jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information that Trump had recklessly divulged to Russian officials was considered so sensitive that its details have been kept from allies and tightly confined even within the U.S. government, according to U.S. officials.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official regarding the terminology used by American spy agencies when referring to classification levels. The president “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies”

According to the U.S. official, Trump did not have permission to disclose this information to the Russians, even if Trump claims that it was something that he had “the absolute right to do” White House officials were familiar with Trump not following the script, but this reckless step that he took endangers cooperation from an ally that has close eyes to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

President Trump’s national security adviser and participant of the discerned meeting, H.R McMaster, denied in a statement that the president had shared classified intelligence methods or sources to Russia. He also told reporters on Monday that the rumours of Trump’s disclosure of espionage etiquette were false, adding that “the president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation […] At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

McMaster, along with other White House Officials, had given statements regarding the incident before Trump’s tweets of affirmations of his actions. McMaster’s statement completely contradicts the president’s statements, prompting others to believe that a grand miscommunication occurred between Trump and his staff, leading to his staff being taken aback with the sudden allegations of espionage.

What left many onlookers and press teams stunned was the White House revealing that Donald Trump did not know where the intelligence he shared with Russian officials was from in a statement from McMaster during an urgent press briefing.

Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, expressed his deep dislikeness towards Trump and critiqued his latest actions regarding his ties with Russia.

“President Trump’s recklessness with sensitive information is deeply disturbing and clearly problematic,” Mr. Reed said in a statement to New York Times. “The president of the United States has the power to share classified information with whomever they wish, but the American people expect the president to use that power wisely. I don’t believe the president intentionally meant to reveal highly secretive information to the Russians.”

Trump restricted media presence in the meeting

Besides the epic revelation of secrets hosted by the president himself, Trump had also discreetly banned American journalists from capturing the event and but allowed entrance to Russian press. The only reason as to why the American public is aware and updated about the meeting is because of Russia’s state-run press.

The White House had only given permission to an official White House photographer, and Lavrov’s official photographer – unbeknownst to the present U.S officials at the time, including Trump himself, Lavrov’s photographer was actually also employed by a Russian state-run news agency.

The misleading Russian photographer took the opportunity of being present at the Trump-Lavrov meeting and snapped some photos to be uploaded to the news site.

Jordan Fabian, a journalist for The Hill, clarified the matter of exactly who was and wasn’t allowed to cover the Trump-Lavrov-Kislyak meeting with a statement to the Thinking Progress that entails:

This was the White House’s response when I asked whether members of the Russian media were allowed into the meeting:

“On background, our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that’s it.”

American journalists were convened to the Oval Office just after 11:20 AM, expecting to gather information on Trump’s meeting with Lavrov, but what they saw was Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sitting next to Trump. It’s a key fact to discern that Kissinger worked with Nixon, who resigned from his presidency amid the 1974 Watergate scandal. 

The Trump Administration’s motion to ban journalists from the meeting came after a journalist in West Virginia was detained for asking questions to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Trump has had multiple attempts at restricting the presence of journalists in the White House. Just this week, he declared that the White House shall cancel all press briefings in the future and instead, “hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy.”

Trump’s tax returns showed few Russia dealings

Lawyers who work for Trump claim that the past 10 years of Trump’s tax returns, “with a few exceptions,” show no income from any Russian sources in a released letter from lawyers Sherri A. Dillon and William F. Nelson to which the White House revealed on Friday.

The “few exceptions” mentioned refers to the $95 million paid by a Russian billionaire for a Trump-owned estate in Florida and $12.2 million in payments in connection with holding the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, as reported by the New York Times.

In addition to the Florida estate and the beauty pageant, the lawyers said Mr. Trump had received undisclosed payments over 10 years from Russians for hotel rooms, rounds of golf or Trump-licensed products; however, they said those amounts were “immaterial” and would not have been identified as coming from Russian sources in the tax returns.

The White House released a letter from the tax firm Morgan Lewis that detailed its review of Russian connections in President Trump’s tax returns from the last 10 years. Source: The New York Times

“We have no projects in Russia, no financing from Russia, no business ties to Russia,” Eric Trump, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization said in an email to New York Times. “It is a false narrative created by a faltering political party, and it is simply not true.”

The president cited the letter in an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News, saying that “[he] has nothing to do with Russia” and that “[he] has a certified letter, just so you understand.”

Trump ordered an execution of Edward Snowden for treason, and called him a “traitor” for “giving serious information to China and Russia.”

In the summer of 2013, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked a massive bulk of classified U.S. information to British and American journalists. The documents contained secret mass-surveillance programs run by the U.S. government and allied countries.

Their disclosure led to Snowden’s detainment and a called execution from Trump, who was merely just a citizen at that time. Snowden fled first to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, where he resides to this day under temporary asylum protections, according to The Atlantic.

The striking hypocrisy in this fact is that Trump’s patriotism was so extreme in his days as a mundane citizen that he would call Snowden a traitor for leaking U.S. documents to British and American journalists; unperceived by him, he would be doing the same, but to a considered enemy country of the U.S. as the 45th president of America. Should he not be called a traitor as well?

It is yet to be revealed what Trump has hidden in his sleeve regarding further relations with Russia, but his statement entailing that “he has nothing to do with Russia” is a stark contrast to what was all revealed just this week.

This is an ongoing story, more updates to come.

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Charlize Alcaraz
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Charlize is a high school junior who hails from the Philippines. She currently resides in Canada, and takes interest in both Canadian and Philippine politics, as well as American Civics.

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