05/31/17 09:20 AM—UPDATED 05/31/17 09:31 AM
By Steve Benen
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that “a team of lawyers” may soon review Donald Trump’s social-media missives as the White House tries to grapple with the Russia scandal.
If that was the plan, it doesn’t appear to be going well. This morning, for example, the president published some tweets about the controversy that didn’t do Trump World any favors:
“So now it is reported that the Democrats, who have excoriated Carter Page about Russia, don’t want him to testify. He blows away their case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing ‘the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan…’ Witch Hunt!”
Trump was apparently watching a Fox News segment this morning, which led to this little outburst.
And that’s a shame, because the president’s tweets are problematic for a variety of reasons.
For example, Trump, apparently quoting a letter Page sent to lawmakers seemed to argue this morning that the former directors of the FBI and the CIA delivered “false or misleading testimony” while under oath. That’s a pretty dangerous thing for a president to allege publicly without any evidence.
What’s more, Trump’s tweet follows Page’s claim that his interview with the House Intelligence Committee has been delayed, but it’s unclear if that interview had ever been scheduled in the first place.
But perhaps the most salient detail is Trump’s insistence that Carter Page has information that “blows away” the Democrats’ “case against him” in the Russia scandal. This, of course, leads to an awkward question: how exactly would the president know that?
A year ago, during the presidential campaign, Trump personally singled out Page, by name, as one of only a handful of people who were advising him on matters of foreign policy. That became highly problematic: the FBI has investigated Page as a possible agent of Russia.
The more controversial Page became, the more eager Team Trump became to put distance between Page and the president. Sean Spicer told reporters during the transition period, for example, “Carter Page is an individual whom [Trump] does not know.” The Washington Post added this morning people close to the president have insisted that Trump and Page “never met.”
And yet, there was the president this morning, not only defending Page, but making the case that Page has important, exculpatory information. I’ll look forward to the explanation as to how and why Trump has reached this conclusion.