May 28, 2017

Sunday School 5/28/2017

We only had time for one classroom today, and
NBC's Meet the Press was the winner. 

Not surprisingly, there was a whole lot of conversation about the Trump administration's latest mess, the disclosure that Jared Kushner is a focus of (but not currently a subject of) the Russia investigation. 

Joining Chuck Todd on today's show? Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, and John Kelly, head of Homeland Security.

Todd's first question to Corker was a good one:
Can you think of any good reason to do that (ed note: putting together a backchannel possibly using Russian facilities) in a transition period between one presidency over another?
Corker is apparently a master at spin, if this response is any indication. See if you can find the answer to the question buried in here somewhere:
Look I think Jared has said he's more than willing to answer any and all questions. They reached out to us yesterday to make sure that we knew that was the case and I'm sure he's willing to do so. I look at what the reports have said about asking questions of him. It seems to me that he's, based on just the reporting that you and others are making he's not a target and so I think I would just wait. Sounds like he's more than glad to talk about all of these things and instead of getting wrapped up into a lot of hyperbole, as these things can sometimes do, I think talking with him directly and getting him to answer any and all questions as he said he would do would probably be the prudent course of action.
Willingness of the witness blah blah blah has nothing to do with Corker's opinion, does it? Todd tried again, and here was Corker's second dodge.
Again, I think it's best to talk directly with these people. I know that from a military standpoint, obviously we have ways of deconflicting with Russia on things relative to Syria. Again Chuck, because I just don't know, these things or these sources are not people who are willing to give their names. It's just hard to respond to thinks like this. Again, you know, no names attached, no dates attached. Look, let's let this unfold. I've spent a lot of time with Jared. He was over just recently in a bipartisan way, briefing us on the upcoming trip. They achieved all of their goals. He seems to me to be a very open person and again, I'd let him speak for himself when the time is right on all these issues and at that time we can actually render judgment on the reality of what did or didn't take place.
The Syria connection? Corker said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the guy who says our values don't matter all that much when it comes to diplomacy, needs time to get Russia to help with Syria, and so we can wait on punishing Putin and the gang on the election interference, which we'll do, honest, but sometimes we need to slow down.
We care about diplomacy in our country. We want to make sure that it works. We want to give it every opportunity. And to wait a few weeks at the request of the secretary of state to see if he can change things in Syria seems to me to be an appropriate thing to do. That's what we've done. But next work period we plan to take it up.
I would have thought that a multi-hundred-billion-dollar arms deal would have helped with Syria, but maybe that's me. That the head of the Foreign Relations Committee doesn't have any sense of urgency about any of this? Maybe that's all him.

And while Corker seemed pretty laissez-faire on the whole Jared thing, I was even more surprised that our Homeland Security guy, John Kelly, was even more so:
I know Jared. He's a great guy, decent guy. His number one, number one interest, really, is the nation so you know there's a lot of different ways to communicate, backchannel, publicly with other countries, I don't see any big issue here relative to Jared.
When pressed, he went on
Well, you know it was before the government was in place during the transition period, I think, from what I understand. And I think any time you can open lines of communication with anyone, whether they're good friends or not so good friends, is a smart thing to do. 
Well, alrighty then. As you think about his answers to the Jared questions, understand his opinion on leaks about details of the Manchester investigation.
I don't know where the leak came from. But I will tell you this, as I always do in cases like this, I immediately called my counterpart in the UK. And after offering my condolences about the attack - and unbelievably this is the third time in 120 days I've done that; I've called the minister and offered my condolences. She immediately brought this topic up. And if it came from the Unites States, it's totally unacceptable. And I don't know why people do these kind of things, but it's borderline, if not over the line, of treason. 
I'm going to leave it there, this Sunday. A nice guy, the son-in-law of the president,  allegedly working to set up conversations with a foreign government that by all accounts interfered with the presidential election that gave us the current president and his son-in-law, is cool, but leaking information to the press is treason?

See you around campus, assuming I get my mind off the merry-go-round.