I've already unambiguously stated my thoughts on President Trump choosing to congratulate Russia's top thug on his repression-fueled and fraud-aided electoral "victory" this week. We've since learned that the president did so in direct contradiction of his own top advisers' recommendation -- likely with an eye toward maintaining total solidarity with the British government -- which reportedly came in the form of an all-caps reminder written on his briefing memo:
Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his re-election despite aides warning him in an all-caps note ('DO NOT CONGRATULATE') to refrain from doing so, the Washington Post reports. https://t.co/5h4CWb367t— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 21, 2018
How to we know about this juicy, not-so-little detail? Yet another high-level leak. Sen. Marco Rubio says he is dismayed that Trump chose not to heed his team's sound advice, but is exasperated by the steady drumbeat of damaging leaks that have plagued this presidency:
"To be this duplicitous, and continue to leak things out, it's dangerous. I don't like what he did, but I really hate that there's someone in his inner circle who's willing to leak this stuff. If you don't like working for the president, you should resign your job."
Some on the Left are already torching Rubio and other Republicans for appearing more upset about the leaks than Trump congratulating Putin (cough), but they're missing a key point, which Allahpundit makes persuasively:
If this isn’t the worst leak of Trump’s presidency, it’s certainly top two. The only worse one I can think of is leaking the transcripts of his conversations with world leaders...The president needs to be able to trust his senior staff to keep his confidence. They give advice and he takes it or leaves it. If he leaves it, them’s the breaks. Running to the media to scrub your fingerprints off the boss’s decision is not only disloyal, it poisons the environment in the West Wing. And it’s self-defeating. A character like Trump won’t be more likely to heed the advice of a staff whom he despises for embarrassing him with leaks. To the contrary. The only case I can think of where an aide’s duty of confidentiality bows before a duty to leak is if the executive is doing something illegal. Whatever you think of Trump congratulating Putin on his sham election win, it wasn’t that...Rubio’s entirely right here. If Trump congratulating a foreign fascist on his sham election win bothers you, you’re in the wrong job. Quit! ...There’s no shame in taking your best shot at persuasion and then bailing after you’ve lost the argument, just as Gary Cohn did after Trump went tariff-crazy a few weeks ago. But don’t stab the guy in the back for it.
If a president, especially one generally perceived as erratic and implusive, cannot trust the people within his own inner circle, that is deeply destabilizing. And if he doesn't believe that foreign policy decisions and sensitive conversations will remain private (and if that's what leaders on the other end of the line also believe), that dysfunctional climate of suspicion undermines diplomacy, risks ratching up potential paranoia, and limits non-violent avenues for addressing and resolving tensions. Is generating another fleeting news cycle for the usual suspects to heap more scorn on Trump really worth all of that?