The purpose of the small attendee list was undoubtedly to prevent leaks. The Trump administration did not want a repeat of the damaging information that came out during his last meeting with the Russians, a lighthearted event in the oval office in which Trump bragged about his access to top rate intelligence followed by his then giving out highly classified information to the Lavrov and other Russian attendees.
|Russian officials meeting with President Trump in Oval Office this May|
Unfortunately, for the Trump administration, there was one person in the room who could not remain silent when it came to releasing damaging information about what happened in Friday's meeting - Donald Trump. This morning President Trump tweeted out:
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said involving the Russians in a cyber security unit is "not the dumbest idea I've ever heard but it's pretty close." Meanwhile Florida Senator Marco tweeted out that "partnering with Putin on a "Cuber Security Unit" is akin to partnering with Assad on a "Chemical Weapons Unit."Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
And those were Republicans. Adam Schiff, a Democrat who is a member on the House Intelligence Committee, who said on CNN's State of the Union that "if that's our best election defense, we might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow."
It is now clear how Russian participation on such a cyber security unit would work. Would we share with the Russians our intelligence on how we track down hackers and how systems can be designed to avoid such hacking in the future? Doesn't President Trump understand that such information would be enormously helpful to the Russians in continuing their cyber hacking program?
Trump has now tweeted several times about Friday's meeting and it is clear from those tweets that the President did not "press" his man crush Russian President Vladimar Putin on election meddling. Even Secretary of State Tillerson said Trump raised meddling not on his own behalf but on behalf of the "American people" and then simply moved on when Putin denied it. President Trump now admits that he didn't raise the possibility of sanctions for Russia's election interference, despite the fact such a bill passed the Senate 97-2 and is pending in the House. According to Lavrov's version of the meeting, Trump accepted Putin's denials of involvement and even offered the observation that some media outlets in the United States are exaggerating the election hacking story. While Lavrov has a reputation for being less than honest, sadly President Trump does as well. Bottom line is that Lavrov's claims about what transpired during the meeting seem perfectly consistent with the things President Trump has said about Russian interference in the 2016 election, including how Trump responded when asked by a reporter about the issue just two days early.