Donald Trump was given a briefing paper before his talk with Vladimir Putin that said in all caps “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” After all, Putin just authorized an attack on the the UK that’s poisoned at least 38 people with a Soviet-era nerve agent, and giving him a high-five for defeating his opponents seemed like maybe not the best idea. Especially when most of Putin’s real competition had either been jailed, exiled or … made unavailable for comment.
Instead, Trump hopped on this phone, chatted up his bestie, and proudly reported that he said exactly what his own advisers asked him not to say.
President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.
The initial reaction to these reports from Trump’s team was anger that, despite desperate attempts to apply patches, their leaky ship was leaking even faster than before. But the second reaction out of the White House is a claim that it wasn’t Donald Trump’s fault … because he doesn’t read.
Senior White House official tells Fox News that while NSC’s Putin call briefing memo said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE”, Donald Trump likely didn’t see the memo as his pre-call briefing was by phone – not in person – and ‘do not congratulate’ was not mentioned in the phone briefing.
Despite ordering up cartoon versions of the Presidential Daily Brief—high on graphs and charts, low on text—Donald Trump still found reading around the pictures too much of an effort. That’s why, going back at least a year, Donald Trump has had someone else read the Daily Brief for him.
How can Trump be expected to follow a note, if he doesn’t look at the notes:
Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day, according to three people familiar with his briefings.
Reading the traditionally dense intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred “style of learning,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
It’s not clear exactly who has been reading Donald Trump’s briefings to him—though at least two reports on Hope Hick’s departure made mention of her “sugary voice.”
However, even if Trump prefers his information short, sweet and audible, there is at least one person who has been reading those presidential daily briefings closely …
Until he was stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February, presidential adviser Jared Kushner was known around the White House as one of the most voracious readers of the President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified rundown of the latest intelligence intended only for the president and his closest advisers.
If Donald Trump didn’t get the note that he wasn’t supposed to congratulate Putin because no one read it to him … what else has been missing from his morning brief? Maybe the reasons why he shouldn’t cheer on Saudi Arabia in launching a blockade of a prominent US ally that hosts the largest American military base in the Middle East? A few hints that Assad was back to dropping chemical weapons in Syria? It’s hard to tell—since Trump can’t be held to the written document that is prepared every morning especially for his consumption.
But it seems only fair that Trump congratulated Putin. After all, they both declared victory in elections that played by his rules.
Ludmila Sklyarevskaya, a Russian hospital administrator, voted on Sunday in an election that gave Vladimir Putin another term as Russia’s president. Then she went to another polling station and voted again, according to Reuters reporters who witnessed her movements.
Sklyarevskaya, who denied any wrongdoing, was among 17 people who were photographed by Reuters apparently casting ballots at more than one polling station Sunday in the town of Ust-Djeguta, southern Russia.
Many appeared to be state employees, and some showed up in groups and in mini buses bearing the names of state-provided services.
Dear conservative conspiracy theorists: It turns out there really are busloads of people being shipped around to vote multiple times. In Russia. For Donald Trump’s biggest supporter.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.