So, like everyone else, I'm reading this New York Times story...
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
And this CNN story...
High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN....
Among several senior Trump advisers regularly communicating with Russian nationals were then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and then-adviser Michael Flynn.
I'm amazed that the wheels are coming off this quickly. I'm listening to well-meaning hand-wringers who wonder whether it's a good thing that the national security apparatus is leaking this way. But I'm struck by the fact that the Trumpers involved in this didn't even seem to realize that their conversations would be monitored.
I know that the average person on the street might not realize that U.S. agencies routinely monitor the phone calls of Russian intelligence officials. But this was a big-league presidential campaign. Sure, the campaign was full of people from outside the world of politics and government, starting with the candidate. But Flynn worked in military intelligence and then was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Manafort was a longtime Republican operative and had a lot of dealings in the Russian sphere. Did they really not understand that what they were doing was known to our intelligence agencies? Was this ignorance, arrogance, or a combination of both?
The president is too ill informed to realize that he shouldn't deal with a national security situation in a public dining room, or allow ordinary citizens to take photos of the officer holding the nuclear football for him. But his crew was no more circumspect before the inaugural, even when scheming to undermine the international order. What's wrong with these people?
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog