Trump reportedly disclosed highly classified information to Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak
Trump also reportedly bragged to the Russians about firing Comey, saying he "faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off"
FBI Director Comey wrote a memo noting Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn's ties to the Russians
Ex-FBI head Bob Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee the Russia probe, and White House lawyers began to research impeachment procedures
For a presidency pegged on unpredictability, there’s been one constant for Donald Trump these last two weeks: A series of absolutely horrible, largely self-inflicted political wounds.
The week started with a report Monday in The Washington Post that Trump had disclosed highly classified information to Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a recent Oval Office meeting. While the White House pushed back on the disclosures as “wholly appropriate” – in national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s words – they urged news organizations not to report on the actual information Trump told the Russians because it was so sensitive. Um, ok.
Even as the White House – and congressional Republicans – were reeling from that revelation, this bombshell came from the New York Times: Then FBI Director James Comey had written a memo following a February 14 meeting with the President in which he noted that Trump had asked him to drop the investigation into deposed national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to the Russians. “I hope you can let this go,” Trump reportedly told Comey, after asking Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave the room.
It was only Tuesday.
On Wednesday came another shocking announcement: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed ex-FBI head Bob Mueller as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and the possibility that its operatives colluded with members of the Trump campaign.
The initial reaction out of White House was decidedly muted. “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” Trump said. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
That tune changed – rapidly. By Thursday morning, 12 hours after the Mueller announcement, Trump took to Twitter to make his real feelings about a special counsel known. “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” he tweeted in an epic feat of hyperbole.
Later that day, in a press conference with the Colombian prime minister, Trump doubled down. “I respect the move,” he said, before quickly adding: “But the entire thing has been a witch hunt. There is no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign. But I can always speak for myself and the Russians – zero.”
In that same press conference, Trump was asked whether he had asked Comey to end the investigation into Flynn. “No. No. Next question,” he responded, four words upon which the credibility and viability of his presidency now rest.
By Friday, official Washington was running on empty – exhausted by a seemingly endless stream of gigantic news stories, any one of which would dominate a normal news cycle for weeks.
But within an hour of Trump boarding Air Force One for a nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome, among other cities, the Times was at it again with a story detailing how, in that same May 10 meeting, Trump had bragged to Lavrov and Kislyak that he had fired Comey – calling him a “nut job” and adding: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The White House didn’t deny the story. Instead they offered a ridiculous spin that Comey was getting in the way of Trump’s attempts to push the reset button in the US relationship with Russia. Uh-huh.
The cherry on top? CNN’s Evan Perez reported late Friday night that White House lawyers had begun to research impeachment procedures.
Even that laundry list of horrible developments for the White House leaves things out – most notably the ever-changing stories of why Trump actually fired Comey. It’s mind-boggling.
Donald Trump, for stuffing seven years’ worth of bad news into seven days, you had the worst week in Washington. Again. Congrats, or something.