One of the most significant aspects of the published transcripts of Donald Trump’s conversations with his Mexican and Australian counterparts is the fact they were leaked.
Private discussions between world leaders are kept secret so they can speak their minds and establish trust. The leaks will make it harder for the US to carry out high-level diplomacy and resolve serious crises, not just under Trump but potentially far beyond his presidency.
The publication of transcripts by the Washington Post is the latest of many signs that established norms are breaking down inside the administration, with far-reaching and unpredictable implications.
Such documents should have been very closely held, accessible to only a few senior officials. Their publication reflects the intensity of the war inside the White House between rival factions – and a reminder that, for all his well-advertised toughness, the new chief of staff, John Kelly, is going to find it very hard to impose discipline on an institution that is dysfunctional from the top down.
It is quite possible that the leaker was motivated by anxiety about the national security implications of Trump’s erratic leadership – that the leak is a cry for help from inside the administration.
The transcripts of his conversations with Enrique Peña Nieto and Malcolm Turnbull show the president to be no more coherent in private than he is public: ill-informed – even about a major attack on US soil – and narcissistic to the point of absurdity....
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