POTUS’ Tweets Put His Aides in Awkward Spot – By Eli Stokols Updated May 16, 2017 7:57 p.m. ET


Since the administration’s earliest days, POTUS’ Twitter account and interviews have been used to undercut comments of his senior aides

 

National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said on Tuesday that counterterrorism information that President Trump shared in a meeting with Russians in the Oval Office last week “was wholly appropriate,” following reports that the president had revealed sensitive information. Photo: Reuters

 

WASHINGTON— H.R. McMaster on Tuesday was the latest Trump administration official to find himself in an awkward position.

The national security adviser had to revise his defense of President Donald Trump’s unveiling of classified information to Russian officials. The president’s conversations were “wholly appropriate,” said Mr. McMaster, who a day before had said flatly that the release of sensitive information “didn’t happen.”

The reason for the clarification: a Trump tweet.

For the second time in two weeks, the president has used his Twitter account and interviews to undercut the comments of his senior aides. It is a pattern, established in the earliest days of the Trump administration when aides were forced to defend the size of the inauguration crowd, that risks undermining the White House’s standing with political allies on Capitol Hill and the public.

“After a while, your credibility just gets tattered, and it has repercussions on your ability to be effective on other issues,” said Eric Edelman, ambassador to Turkey and undersecretary of defense under President George W. Bush.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence and others had sought to explain Mr. Trump’s abrupt firing of former FBI Director James Comey as a reaction to a memo from the deputy attorney general. But then, the president himself admitted he made the decision out of frustration over the FBI’s investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election and his own feeling that Mr. Comey was “a showboat.”

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