What could be more damaging to national security if the US president can’t talk to a foreign leader frankly without the fear of his or the other person’s comments going public, questions former US diplomat Jim Jatras?
The Washington Post published Thursday two leaked confidential transcripts of President Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders.
Both calls took place in January and, according to the paper, the transcripts had been prepared by White House staff, but not released.
According to the call records, Trump insisted Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, stop publicly saying his country will not pay for Trump’s proposed wall on the US-Mexican border.
Additionally, the report revealed details of Trump’s phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issue of refugees.
The leak comes a day before Attorney Jeff Sessions is scheduled to hold a news conference detailing efforts to crack down on leaks.
RT: How damaging is it to US national security that the president’s confidential phone calls are leaked?
Jim Jatras: What could be more damaging if the President of the US cannot talk to a foreign leader frankly without fear of his comments going public, or those of the person he’s talking to? How do you conduct diplomatic business which should be the top priority of the president? The leaking of this information just simply shows the kind of mania we have here in Washington – that nothing is too bad to do to this president. He is such an illegitimate, such a bad president that all the rules can be broken and this criminal activity, this criminal leaking is – “sure, why not, it is actually patriotic to do that.”
RT: Could these leaks of the president’s confidential phone calls make foreign leaders less apt to speak openly with the US president?
JJ: Of course, I think it is indeed a part of the purpose in leaking them in the first place – to put a chilling effect on anything this president might do while they continue to set him up for removal. I’ll be very interested to hear what Attorney General Jeff Sessions has to say. Frankly, from the day he walked in his office, the first thing he should have done was convene a high-level task force to track down these leakers, prosecute them and put them in jail. He should have impaneled a Grand Jury months ago.
Meanwhile, we hear today that Mr. (Robert) Mueller has impaneled a Grand Jury, even though we haven’t heard any evidence there has even been a crime committed. So there is a complete disconnect between the real criminality – we know it’s going on, it is not being dealt with – and these efforts to essentially bring down the constitutionally elected president.
RT: White House staff reportedly made the two transcripts. What’s the likelihood there are one or more moles inside Trump’s team?
JJ: It is very unlikely this came from Trump’s team or the White House. Remember one of the last things Mr. Obama did, when he left the White House was to open up the purview for distribution of certain types of information, which means a lot more agencies and a lot more bureaucrats if you will ‘deep staters,’ have access to this information. And of course, the Washington Post is a primary outlet for this kind of information and has a very cozy relationship with their, if you will burrowed in sources, mainly in the intelligence community. I’m guessing that is partly where it came out. Is it going to be tough to track down – you bet it is. So that is why you need a top investigatory team, whose job is to find it.
RT: Do you believe that those who would like to undermine Trump have gone too far in their effort to show him in a bad light?
JJ: It’s been going too far for quite some months now. Indeed from even before Mr. Trump took the oath of office these efforts were already underway. It is a conscious effort, if you will, a conspiracy to overturn the results of the election. This is simply another symptom of it, and you can bet that tomorrow and next week there’ll be another shoe dropping, and another shoe dropping, and another shoe dropping, and this will continue going on. These people want to remove Trump; they want to neutralize him, pending that. But let’s make no mistake about what the agenda is here.