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Politico Puts Together What Trump Did the Entire Day He Found Out About the Russian Bounties

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Politico Puts Together What Trump Did the Entire Day He Found Out About the Russian Bounties

2020-07-02 18:33:06

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Public domain)


Much of the country was stunned to discover that Donald Trump learned of the Russian bounties on the heads of U.S. troops in Afghanistan but didn't act on it. He must have had some other really serious events going on that day to not act on this information, right?

Politico has put together the entire day to find out what could have been more important than investigating the intelligence regarding the Russian bounties and getting to the bottom of it. While the White House maintains Trump was never informed, and he is calling it a "hoax," two officials say he received a written brief on the matter. One said he was informed sometime late in February, while the other maintains it was on February 27.

So what we Trump doing on February 27 instead of dealing with this accusation about Russia? The country was not on lockdown yet, and there were still only a few cases of COVID-19 in the United States. This was just a few weeks after he'd been acquitted by the Senate. There were still eight Democratic candidates vying for the chance to go up against him in November.

He was scheduled to hold an intelligence briefing in the afternoon. Then evening he and Melania would be hosting a reception for African American History Month. Mike Pence was scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Committee.

The officials claim the President's Daily Brief that day contained intelligence that said Russia had put bounties on the heads of U.S. troops, offering to pay the Taliban.

Trump had just returned from India and was on Twitter until a little after 1 a.m. He reposted concerns from lawmakers about a vote reauthorizing domestic spying powers. It accused the Obama administration of spying on the Trump campaign in 2016. He also promoted his rally that was scheduled for the following day in South Carolina.

This was two days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the peace agreement with the Taliban that would lead to a withdrawal of U.S. troops, with officials hoping it would end the war. The Pentagon issued the first coronavirus travel restrictions: it went out to Defense personnel in the Middle East.

Later that morning, the health official leading the response against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Deborah Birx, became the White House coronavirus response coordinator. This was one day after Pence was assigned to lead the coronavirus task force when the White House was defusing reports there was a shakeup in the task force.

Earlier in the week, a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nancy Messonnier, warned that COVID-19 had spread throughout the country and that the "disruption to everyday life might be severe."

Pence's office announced later in the day that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Council of Economic Advisers Director Larry Kudlow were being added to the coronavirus task force.

At a briefing to formalize Pence's position in control of the task force, he turned to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, and a member of the task force, and said, Let me conclude by saying our best estimate is that the threat to the American public, Dr. Fauci, remains low."

On Wednesday, the United States hit an all-time high with the number of new cases in one day: more than 50,000.

"The virus has adapted extremely well to human species," Fauci informed the vice president. "This one has the capability of spreading readily from human to human. He explained the mortality rate for COVID-19 was higher than the seasonal flu. "We are dealing with a serious virus," he warned.

Also sometime that afternoon, Trump met in the Oval Office with the stars of a "verbatim theater" production: "FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers," Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson. The production was based on the anti-Trump text messages in 2016 by two members of the FBI who were involved in the Russia investigation and having an affair: Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

A press release stated Trump met with the two actors, along with Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, the playwright and producer to "discuss the importance of the play" before its live performance at CPAC scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

Stocks were plummeting that day. The Dow fell 1,191 points, the largest ever single-day point drop. It was in correction territory by the end of the day, but it was still the stock market's worst week since the 2008 Great Recession.

Trump called reporters to the Cabinet Room early that evening. He met with nearly two dozen Black supporters. These included conservative commentator Candace Owens, Pastor Darrell Scott, actor Isaiah Washington, Alveda King, and vloggers Diamond and Silk.

All praised Trump as they went around the table, and he discussed his administration's work on criminal justice reform. This included a large group of recent pardons and commutations. He also discussed signing a bill that would secure federal funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the opportunity zone initiative that's in the 2017 GOP tax bill.

It was only three months later that George Floyd would die at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. A few days later, peaceful protesters were driven away from the White House with force so that Trump could walk to a church for a photo op. 

Trump discussed the coronavirus as well. He called the 15 confirmed cases at the time a "miracle," and said it was due to the "incredible achievement" of the country that the disease was fended off when China and Italy were doing so poorly. He complained he didn't get enough credit for how he handled the virus.

"If we were doing a bad job, we should also be criticized. But we have done an incredible job. We're going to continue. It's going to disappear," he said. "One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear."

Yet, he also added, And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away," before saying, "We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows."

Of course, he couldn't let the day go by without discussing crowd size. He compared his crowd sizes to that of the Democrats, calling out former Vice President Joe Biden in particular because of his infamous gaffes. He took in chants of "four more years!"

Just a few weeks back, he held his first campaign rally in months and was not able to fill more than one-third of the venue.

A former reception at the White House later that evening again brought out the "four more years" chants. He gave a speech that discussed the accomplishments of noted African Americans and pledged to support the Black community.

"In every field, every generation, and every calling, African Americans have lifted up our nation to new heights and, like all citizens, you're entitled to a government that puts your needs, your interests, and your families first," said the president.

This week he tweeted that Black Lives Matter is a symbol of hate.

Trump recognized a young Eagle Scout and gave him an American flag that had been flown on board Marine One. He also recognized civil rights icon Gertrude Jane Holliday Stone. He oddly brought up the white founder and CEO of MyPillow, Mike Lindell. He also brought up the head of his campaign in Minnesota, with a joke he'd recommend not buying Lindell's products if he lost with Minnesota in November.

The Minneapolis cop who put his knee on George Floyd's neck has been charged with 2nd degree murder. Large parts of the city have been burned to the ground in the past month. Trump issued a statement, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Trump talked again about the accomplishments of the Black community, stating, "The progress you've made over the last three years is also record-setting." After discussing the coronavirus early on, he said later, "We'll get this one problem."

It was back to Twitter shortly before 9 p.m. This was to accuse CNN of "doing whatever it can to stoke a national coronavirus panic."

There were just 15 cases in the U.S. then. There have now been 2.6 million cases throughout the six months of the pandemic.

He accused the Democrats of getting distracted from the pandemic by focusing instead on the impeachment trial in the Senate. 

These things on February 27 all seemed more important to him than the news that the Russians were placing bounties on the heads of U.S. troops. It's been said that the bounties could be tied to three Marines who were killed in an April 2019 car bombing. The men were identified as Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, 43, of Newark, Delaware; Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, New York; and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania.

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