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Sunday, February 5, 2017

There's no recording of Trump's talk with Putin—because Trump's team turned off the recorder

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, from left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
One of the great questions of the Donald Trump "presidency" has been to what extent members of his campaign team worked with Russian officials or go-betweens in their attempt to get the already-unstable, already-incompetent authoritarian-minded bumbler elected to the lead the most powerful democracy in the world. We know of multiple campaign staffers who met with Russian officials over the last few years. We know of payments to several of those staffers. We were told by a foreign intelligence investigator of numerous alleged links between Trump, Trump's team, and Russia, from blackmail to business ties. And we know it's the subject of an active American investigation—unless Team Trump scuttled that investigation and the FBI obligingly listened.

So in a presidency that's already being compared to Nixon's on a daily basis and by people who were there, this is a real humdinger.
Ilan Berman, vice president of the conservative American Foreign Policy Council think tank, reported that the White House turned off its recording equipment during President Donald Trump’s call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While Donald Trump was talking to the world leader known by American intelligence officers to have worked to assist Trump's rise to the presidency, Trump's White House turned off the recorder.

This would be why the White House "readout" of the call consisted of a one-sentence summary of the call's supposed contents. The Kremlin crafted a more detailed version, and so our American understanding of the events will rely entirely on Vladimir Putin's commitment to disclosure and accuracy. From our end, there's nothing.

There's no explanation for this. There's no "oops, our secretary's finger slipped and she erased it" or "Have you seen the price of reel-to-reel tapes these days? Donald Trump isn't made of money." There's nothing. There's simply no recording of what the two talked about, at least on our end, in Donald's call to the one and only world leader the ever-insulting Trump has never, ever had an unkind word for.

If Trump is trying to look like a puppet for the Putin regime, he could not possibly do a better job.

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