Trump-a-day

U.S. and Russian officials indicated on Friday — after a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin — that the two countries would work together in a number of areas, including cybersecurity.


In Trump’s own words:
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


Predictably, that was met with mixed reaction, given the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election to favour Trump – a conclusion the president has not said he 100 percent agrees with.

I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

To recap, on 6 January 2017, the CIA, FBI and NSA released a joint intelligence report which found that an intelligence operation was personally ordered by Putin with the purpose of “denying Hillary Clinton the presidency” and “installing Donald Trump in the Oval Office.” Putin held a grudge against Clinton since 2011, the report stated, blaming her for inciting mass protests against his regime. In addition to email hacking, Russian intelligence used state-funded broadcasts, third-party intermediaries and paid social media trolls to spread false information.


Bearing this in mind, we definitely agree with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who said President Trump’s plan to work with Russia on cybersecurity is “pretty close” to the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Graham stressed that there is no evidence the Russian meddling influenced the vote, but he said that by denying the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump “throws our intelligence communities under the bus.” “This whole idea about moving forward without punishing Russia is undermining his entire presidency,” he said. Graham is pushing for increased sanctions on Russia. The Senate passed such a bill, but it is currently delayed in the House. Reports have indicated the White House wants to soften the language.

Trump tweeted Sunday evening that he has low hopes for his proposed U.S.-Russia cyber security unit.

“The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t-but a ceasefire can,& did!” Trump tweeted about three hours after tweeting about a ceasefire in Syria. 

Notable tweet:

Trump is basically admitting his own attempts at diplomacy are useless? 

— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) July 10, 2017

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The New York Times reported on Sunday that Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with the Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who promised damaging information about Clinton. Trump Jr. attended the meeting with the expectation that he would receive compromising information about Clinton, three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two other sources with knowledge of the matter told the Times.

Trump Jr. said in a statement to the paper that he had met with Natalia Veselnitskaya at the request of an acquaintance and denied that he received any information on Clinton.

An ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, said the meeting “borders on treason, if it is not itself treason. This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States. We do not get our opposition research from spies, we do not collaborate with Russian spies, unless we want to be accused of treason.”

Sunday Book Club: “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco

Alyssa Mastromonaco is under the impression that Barack Obama did not like her very much when she interviewed for him in December 2004. Mastromonaco heard about a position in Senator Obama’s team from colleagues who she worked with on John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Lesson number one: your network is your most valuable asset. Getting a job in so many cases is about who you know as much as what you know. We are not talking nepotism, though. A diverse network of contacts is like a safety net. I had a very unpleasant work crisis last year, and it was a colleague and friend from my very first job, who lent me so much of her sanity, I did not even need a shoulder to cry on. Sure, families matter a lot, but if you want someone who just gets it about work and your specific career issues, reach out to people swimming in the same ocean.
Mastromonaco did get a job in the then-senator Obama’s office. In the decade that followed, she served as assistant to the president and director of scheduling and advance at the White House, and then as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House until 2014. She was the youngest woman to hold that position. As part of her job, she coordinated logistics and operations of two presidential campaigns and inaugurations, devised plans for recovery during natural disasters, including floods and hurricanes, oversaw Obama’s foreign travels, including his trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, and so much more. This year, Mastromonaco published a book, reflecting on her experience and lessons learned. Her main goal was to get more women interested in and excited about working in government. As she admits, there never was a woman from the White House who had written such kind of book before. The lessons Mastromonaco shares could be useful to anyone in any industry.

Lesson Two: Be always prepared to defend your choices, whether just to yourself or to your coworkers, friends or family. “The quickest way for people to lose confidence in your ability to ever make a decision is for you to pass the buck, shrug your shoulders, or otherwise wuss out.” 

Mastromonaco gave insight in what it was like having Obama as your boss. The book is generously peppered with most amazing stories. As you might have guessed, Barack Obama is not someone who makes you feel small; there is no external pressure to make you take shortcuts. He assumed his team were adults and learned their own lessons when things did not exactly go as planned. 

Lesson Three: Do as much research as you can and keep your ears open. You will learn a lot about yourself by being open to hearing feedback. 

Lesson Four: The importance of self-awareness – knowing when you are at your best, what you are like on not so good days, and how much sleep you need to function without snapping at people – will allow you to keep your contacts, reputation and sanity throughout your career. Developing self-awareness is a life long process. Just stop and listen to yourself from time to time. In return, your mind and body will give you their optimal performance. 

Lesson Five: Know when it is time to leave. Mastromonaco left the White House when she reached the level of exhaustion, nervousness and insomnia that was beyond coping. We all have different reasons to say “that’s enough.” The point is, do not overstay when you know it is hopeless. I firmly believe that as we only have one life to live, we must make the most of it. Surviving in a place you hate is never a way forward. Remember, self-awareness.

Lesson Six: Know your worth. After leaving the White House, Mastromonaco accepted a job offer from VICE, where she had to negotiate her salary. Her advice: if a potential employer asks how much you want, the best response is “I’m sure there’s a salary band for the position, and my hope would be to come in at the high end of that.” For some of us, money talk will never be easy, but this is a diplomatic way to show that, as far as you are concerned, you deserve the best in your league.

Lesson Seven: Never underestimate the importance of kindness, which extends beyond “please” and “thank you.” Mastromonaco put it brilliantly: “Working in the White House is obviously heady, but it is also humbling – you are around the most brilliant, decorated brains in the country, that do not have to do anything for you, but they often do. If you approach it with grace – and a willingness to accept that many people know much more than you – you can walk away a much better person than you were when you came in.” 

At some point in your career, you will be the youngest, the oldest, the newbie, and, if you stick around long enough, the most experienced person in the room. How exciting is this! Nothing is truer than an old adage: “love what you do, and do what you love.” 

I considered keeping this book in my personal library. However, it is too good not to be shared. Therefore, as most of my books, I will be donating it to Oxfam, so it can inspire someone else. 

Trump-a-day

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have concluded their first, highly anticipated in-person meeting since the U.S. presidential election. The meeting, which was expected to last just 30 minutes, lasted two hours and 16 minutes, according to a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“It’s an honor to be with you,” Trump said to President Putin at the beginning of their meeting. Awwwww!

“President Putin and I have been discussing various things. I think it’s going very well, we’ve had some very, very good talks,” Trump told reporters who were allowed into the room briefly. Trump added, “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned.” Should everybody concerned be concerned or not just yet? Because with these two involved, we are talking the planet Earth level of concern.

Putin said beforehand that he was “delighted” to meet with Trump personally and hoped their meeting would “yield positive results.” The Russian president said while he and Trump have spoken over the phone – three times since Trump took office – such calls are “never enough.” That depends…

Before their high-stakes sit-down, the two leaders had a casual run-in this morning where they exchanged a handshake.

Handshakes in the Trumpworld deserve a separate paragraph or two.


The Guardian reports that Putin had intended it to be the briefest of handshakes, forgetting there is no such thing as a quick handshake with Donald Trump. The US president had thrust out a clammy right paw, grabbed hold of his arm with his left hand and then pumped it enthusiastically for rather longer than was comfortable. 

By the time the two world leaders met for their bilateral meeting in the afternoon, Putin was better prepared. For the obligatory photo opportunity at the beginning of the talks, he and Trump were seated in adjacent armchairs with translators and officials to one side. Their body language could hardly have been worse. Trump was perched on the edge of his chair, trying to appear in control though just looking a bit needy. Putin sat back in his, determined to make little or no eye contact. The American president stuck out a hand, which Putin accepted. This time Trump kept his other hand by his side. There was not doubt in the room who the real boss was.

BBC