Trump and the World’s Worst Negotiation

Assume that Donald Trump is totally innocent of any wrongdoing with regard to Russian interference in the  2016 election, and that those insisting otherwise are treating the president unfairly.

Then reread the latest New York Times scoop:

WASHINGTON — President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

Trump may well be innocent of collusion with Russia during the campaign. And let’s say (though it’s getting harder to believe) that he is innocent of obstructing the investigation.

If all that were true—if we make all the most charitable assumptions about Trump’s actions—his words here should still suffice to give the public great pause about his fitness. For Trump didn’t just speak about firing James Comey in a way that could hardly do more to reinforce the widespread suspicions that swirled around the White House, creating an appearance of impropriety at a time when the nation can ill afford it.

He spoke that way to Russian operatives!

“The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives,” the Times wrote. And that’s right. That it leaked clearly hurts the White House.

If I see that it hurts them, and you see it, and The New York Times saw it? Then so did the Russians. The highest-ranking Russian diplomats in the United States are not idiots. They are savvy. And while it appears they weren’t…

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