Morning Joe Treats WashPost Writer to Softball Interview

Following the uproar brought about by his Washington Post article that President Donald Trump leaked classified information during a meeting with Russian officials, columnist Greg Miller turned to the hostile and completely unsafe space of Morning Joe to discuss his story. Just kidding! The friendly liberal show didn't even bother to ask the questions that a real reporter would ask, pressing Miller on his use of numerous anonymous sources. The unconfirmed scoop comes on the heels of the Post getting several facts wrong in its rush to report on the President firing FBI Director James Comey.

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Instead, the cast of Morning Joe simply assumed all of Miller's sources were credible:

WILLIE GEIST: So, Greg, since you do have, obviously, a good source in the national security community who shared with you their concerns about the president leaking this, did he say anything else to the Russians that's important for our viewers or for American to hear? Did he, for example, admonish them for interfering in our election as all the intelligence agencies have confirmed?

MILLER: Well, you know, that's another one of the big issues here. Our story touches on that a bit. There is a lot of frustration within the administration. There are professionals who are deeply knowledgeable about these regions around the world and they take time, they put together pages of preparatory material for the president, two to five-page papers, for instance, were prepared in advance of his meeting with these Russian officials.

What he was supposed to stick to in terms of a script and what he could expect to hear from them and what their questions were and how to handle those things--the President has insisted all of this material be boiled down to less than a page of bullet points and then often strays even from those. And so, in this case he just again goes off script. Not dissimilar to how badly he went off script in describing what he had done and why to the FBI director James Comey.

I found Willie Geist’s use of the word ‘obviously’ here to be quite interesting given the context of what’s currently happening.  The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines ‘obviously’ as being either a) in an obvious manner or as b) as is plainly evident.  At the moment, we don’t actually know who or what is the Washington Post’s source for this story.  The White House's National Security Advisor, H.R. McMallister, says that the story is false and cites as evidence both him and the Secretary of State being in the room at the same time when the incident in question occurred.

So far, the White House has denied President Trump leaked classified information to the foreign officials. At the very least, the facts are far from obvious.

Here are excerpts of the May 16 exchange:

6:03 AM ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, no, he talked for 60 seconds. McMaster talked for 60 seconds. The general didn't answer any questions, and even conservatives last night were saying it was the classic non-denial denial, straight out of the annals of Watergate. But, a non-denial denial for a question that wasn’t asked in an issue that wasn’t raised.

GREG MILLER: Right, he's giving a bit of a head fake here at a minimum um, saying the president did not reveal sources and methods. But, that's not what our story alleges. instead what or story says is that the president revealed what those sources and methods had obtained, had collected, the information that came through those sources and methods. And in all of the statements from the white house last night, none of them could answer why if this was so ordinary and not a big deal, why was it necessary for McMaster's own staff to come out of that meeting, call right away, place calls to the CIA director and to the director of the national security agency.

SCARBOROUGH: That really is the key Greg, isn’t it? It's was just like when the white house a couple days ago is pushing back on the story of the deputy attorney general. The next day it ended up not being true. Last night they do the same thing, they push out, they put general Mcmaster out there. And, Of course, the information provided will lead back possibly to those first two issues that he actually did bring up. But, why did they rush and go to the director of the CIA and the head of the NSA and say this very important information has been spilled out? Why did they ask you at "The Washington Post" not to disclose this information because it was so highly sensitive. Again, the denials fall flat in the face of the information that we had last night when your story came out.

MILLER: Right, so it really doesn't add up. I mean, you’re right, It doesn't make sense that you would call the CIA director to give him a heads-up that the president had just overstepped in a serious way in a meeting with senior Russian officials, calling the NSA director. Those two senior intelligence officials are the ones who are dealing most directly with this partner. They're the ones that would have to deal with this partner, they’re the ones that would have to deal with this fallout, to try to keep this intelligence channel open, to try to protect it and to try to contain whatever damage was caused by this disclosure.

(...)

6:19 AM ET

WILLIE GEIST: So, Greg, since you do have, obviously, a good source in the national security community who shared with you their concerns about the president leaking this, did he say anything else to the Russians that's important for our viewers or for American to hear? Did he, for example, admonish them for interfering in our election as all the intelligence agencies have confirmed?

MILLER: Well, you know, that's another one of the big issues here. Our story touches on that a bit. There is a lot of frustration within the administration. There are professionals who are deeply knowledgeable about these regions around the world and they take time, they put together pages of preparatory material for the president, two to five-page papers, for instance, were prepared in advance of his meeting with these Russian officials.

What he was supposed to stick to in terms of a script and what he could expect to hear from them and what their questions were and how to handle those things, the president has insisted all of this material be boiled down to less than a page of bullet points and then often strays even from those. And so, in this case he just again goes off script. Not dissimilar to how badly he went off script in describing what he had done and why to the FBI director James Comey.

GEIST: So, he didn't raise the Russian interference in the presidential election with the foreign minister and the ambassador?

MILLER: I have no indication that that issue came up. I would regard that as highly, highly unlikely. All that we no know is the White House official version of what was said in this meeting asserts that Trump raised the issue of Ukraine and a couple other things. There's no mention in the official white house account of this conversation of raising what Russia did in the election last year. What you’re pointing to is one of the really fundamentally shocking aspects of this.

Revealing classified information to anyone under any circumstances by the commander-in-chief would be a big problem, but doing so in this case with Russian officials, including the Russian ambassador, whose presence in this meeting is astonishing. He is already an individual linked to the departure of Trump's first national security adviser, Mike Flynn. He is already linked to the attorney general Jeff sessions' forced recusal from anything related to the Russia instigation and now he's in the oval office with Trump.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: So, Lavrov said the meeting didn't cover the absurd claims of Russian meddling. Greg Miller, thank you for your reporting.

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