Donald Trump has repeatedly made clear that he has little use for U.S. intelligence agencies and their findings. As unsettling as this is, the president's comments naturally lead to a related question: who does Trump listen to, especially ahead of critical meetings such as nuclear talks with North Korea's Kim Jong-un
According to Russia, the American president's team has turned to their benefactors in Moscow for suggestions. The Associated Press reported yesterday:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the United States has asked Moscow's advice in dealing with North Korea before a summit between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader.Trump and Kim Jong Un are expected to meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Vietnam's capital. Their first meeting last summer ended without substantive agreements on North Korea's nuclear disarmament.Lavrov, who is also visiting Vietnam this week, said in comments carried by Russian news agencies on Monday that Russia believes that the U.S. ought to offer Pyongyang "security guarantees" for the disarmament deal to succeed. He also mentioned that "the U.S. is even asking our advice, our views on this or that scenario of" how the summit in Hanoi could pan out.
The fact that the Russia foreign minister will actually be in Vietnam during the Trump-Kim talks in Vietnam is quite a coincidence.
It's worth emphasizing that the White House hasn't confirmed whether or not U.S. officials sought out Russian "advice" and "views" ahead of the negotiations, and it's possible that Lavrov's boasts are little more than bluster.
That said, his claims are very easy to believe.
As Rachel noted on the show last night, the big surprise from the first "summit" between the U.S. and North Korea leaders was Trump's announcement that he had canceled military training exercises with our South Korean allies. In exchange, the American president received effectively nothing.
We later learned that Trump got the idea for this move from none other than Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, last week, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe shared an anecdote in which U.S. officials tried to brief the American president on the capable range of North Korean ballistic missiles. Trump rejected their findings -- because he'd received competing information from the Russian president.
With this in mind, is it really that difficult to believe Sergey Lavrov's latest claims?