White House chief of staff John Kelly said on Wednesday that he plans to address the swift leak of guidance issued to President Trump not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election “win” earlier this week when they spoke on the phone, reports The Washington Examiner.
Kelly is furious, the official said, and will address the matter as aides look into who could have leaked the national security advisers’ Tuesday warning to Trump: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” CNN reported.
Trump disregarded the guidance and congratulated Putin, and also ignored a request that he condemns the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter in England, which several countries say is the work of Russia.
“This is unacceptable,” the official told CNN, adding that some believe the leak was made as an attempt to embarrass the president.
The White House declined to comment, saying officials “cannot comment on alleged classified deliberative documents allegedly provided to the President.” However, a White House official did not dispute the leak or the alleged language used in the warning to Trump.
The Washington Post originally reported the telephone guidance to Trump and also reports that the president’s conversation with Putin, which Trump described as a “very good call,” which prompted fresh criticism of his muted tone toward one of the U.S.’s biggest foreign rivals and especially amid the investigation questioning Trump’s contact with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election.
President Trump has taken some hard stances against Russia like the new sanctions he emplaced last week that were based from election meddling and cyber attacks on the U.S., but even those were said to be not that serious and Russian officials were expecting the sanctions anyway.
Trump told reporters that he had offered his well wishes on Putin’s new six-year term during a conversation that covered a range of topics, including arms control and the security situations in Syria and North Korea.
“We’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future,” Trump said of Putin, though Sanders emphasized that nothing is planned.
The White House press office declined to comment on the briefing materials given to Trump. Two people familiar with the notecards acknowledged that they included instructions not to congratulate Putin.
But a senior White House official emphasized that national security adviser H.R. McMaster did not mention the issue during a telephone briefing with the president, who was in the White House residence ahead of and during his conversation with Putin, The Washington Post reports.
It is still unclear who could be leaking this information about Trump’s conversation, but it appears that Kelly is determined to figure out who betrayed the president and leaked confidential information again.