Russians live-tweet from the Oval Office; Erdogan to visit Trump; ‘Time warfare’; An old weapon gets new life; and just a bit more...

Apparent OPSEC fail finds Russians live-tweeting from the Oval Office. White House officials let Russian state media into one of the most sensitive offices in the United States on Wednesday, and during a closed-door meeting with U.S. press locked out. The result: what the White House believed to be a private meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador-to-the-U.S. Sergey Kislyak was broadcast by Russian state media in real-time for all the world to see. And what did they see? The President of the United States looking variously overjoyed and candidly chummy with two very high-ranking and frequently laughing Russian officials.

The scene immediately drew sharp rebukes from former U.S. national security officials—and set the White House scrambling to explain what happened just as President Trump does his darnedest to quash suspicions that his campaign officials had connections to Russian intelligence in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Former U.S. intelligence officials told the Washington Post the Oval Office scene Wednesday may have constituted a security breach. “Among those commenting on the issue was former deputy CIA director David S. Cohen. Responding to a question posed online about whether it was a sound decision to allow the photographer into the Oval Office, Cohen replied on Twitter: ‘No it was not.’”

After initially saying they had misunderstood the Russian photographer’s true intentions—with one administration official saying the White House had been misled about his role—U.S. officials told WaPo the Russian team was subjected to “the same screening as a member of the U.S. press going through the main gate to the [White House] briefing room.”

Noted one former U.S. intelligence official: “standard screening for White House visitors would not necessarily detect a sophisticated espionage device.”

The live-tweeted closed-door meeting hit social media at a particularly sensitive time in U.S.-Russian relations, coming on the heels of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

And circumstances behind Comey’s firing became a bit clearer on Wednesday, as well—with multiple news outlets reporting Comey had recently requested more funds for the FBI’s investigation into alleged witting or unwitting ties between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence.  

We’ll start with The Wall Street Journal, which reported Wednesday that Comey had just begun receiving daily updates on the investigation, as opposed to weekly, which had been the case until an apparent flood of intelligence drove Comey to request more money for additional investigative staffers.

Comey’s appeal, “described on Wednesday by four congressional officials, was made to Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, whose memo was used to justify Mr. Comey’s abrupt dismissal on Tuesday,” The New York Times reported. “Mr. Rosenstein is the most senior law enforcement official supervising the Russia investigation,” the Times adds.

And it was Rosenstein that the White House charged was the impetus behind Comey’s firing—reportedly instructed by Trump to work with Attorney General Jeff Sessions “to explain in writing the case against Comey” in a meeting at the White House on Monday. “The pair quickly fulfilled the boss’s orders, and the next day Trump fired Comey — a breathtaking move that thrust a White House already accustomed to chaos into a new level of tumult, one that has legal as well as political consequences,” WaPo reported.

But Rosenstein reportedly took sharp issue with that characterization, and “threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation.”

If you want a bit more on Rosenstein, Fox News reminds its readers this morning he is “highly respected on Capitol Hill.”

The growing drama around Comey’s firing is made all the more interesting in light of recent news that former Trump National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in relation to the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Details from CNN, here.  

One more thing: Russia warned Wednesday it may soon pull Ambassador Kislyak—but state media Tass insists (they even put it in the headline) that it has nothing to do with Comey’s dismissal. That, here.

While the White House apparently trusted the Russians more than U.S. media in the Oval Office on Wednesday, a new poll shows “Americans now trust the media over Trump, 57% vs. 31%,” conservative pollster Frank Luntz wrote on Twitter after reading new data from Quinnipiac University. That data, WaPo writes “shows Trump's disapproval rating rising to 58 percent.”

Also in there: 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling foreign policy, CBS News found in Quinnipiac’s data, which comes from a survey of “1,078 voters between May 4 and 9.” Dive into the responses for yourself, here.

President Trump’s reaction on the topic: “I’m getting very good marks in foreign policy. People would not think of me in that light,” he said in a Monday interview with Time magazine, just posted this morning. “I’m just saying, and you read the same things I read. I’m getting As and A+s on foreign policy. And nobody thought about it.”

From Defense One

The Nuclear Option in the Trump-Russia Investigation // Patrick Tucker: Lawmakers have an unusual and costly tactic if they believe investigators are withholding key evidence

Time Warfare: Threats to GPS Aren't Just About Navigation and Positioning // Tom Hawkes and Blake McMahon: The U.S. military needs to get serious about assuring access to precision timing.

Trump's North Korea Policy Just Got More Complicated // Uri Friedman: Moon Jae In, South Korea's newly elected president, has policy ideas of his own.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. #OTD1961: President John F. Kennedy orders the start of clandestine warfare against North Vietnam. Here are photos from today’s Victory Day parade in Moscow. Got tips? Email us at (And if you’re reading this on our website, consider subscribing. It’s free.)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is dropping by Washington on Tuesday for a face-to-face with President Trump, the White House said Wednesday. The visit comes after he “lost his first major political battle with the Trump administration, which is arming the Syrian Kurds who the Turks consider enemies,” NYTs reports. “The question now is what Mr. Erdogan, a headstrong leader, will do next.” Turkish officials have been doing their own scrambling in recent days, pushing back aggressively against the recent White House announcement that the U.S. military will formally arm its Kurdish partners in the upcoming fight for Islamic State-held Raqqa, Syria.

What could lie ahead? Hard to say with a mercurial President like Trump, but the Times writes Erdogan could relent to the U.S. arming the Kurds in exchange for “an American green light for a newly forceful intervention against Turkey’s Kurdish foes in Iraq, the P.K.K.” Read on for all the implications, here.

President Trump’s National Security Council gets a new GO. “Army Reserve Major General Ricky Waddell has been named deputy national security adviser, taking on a role that will soon be vacated by K.T. McFarland,” Politico reported Wednesday. "Waddell will be second in command to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, the sources said...Prior to leading the ORC, Waddell was deputy commander for mobilization and reserve affairs. Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy, and Waddell will both report directly to McMaster. Waddell will run day-to-day operations and meetings and Powell will oversee long-term strategy and manage senior inter-agency relationships." More, here.

Meantime in not-Russian East Europe, “Dozens of weapons were paraded through eastern Ukrainian cities on May 9 for the annual Victory Day parade, including MLRS Grad artillery systems, Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile complexes, and T-64 tanks, despite the fact that the presence of heavy weapons in these areas of Donetsk and Luhansk is forbidden under the second Minsk agreement,” the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab reports this morning.

There’s lots of imagery to sort through, but we’ll cut to DFL’s conclusion: “While the military equipment displayed during the Victory Day parades was not used during Victory Day, its location in central Donetsk and Luhansk is still forbidden by the Minsk Agreements.” More, much more, here.

An old weapon is back. The air-laid naval mine, invented during World War II, was used to great effect in North Vietnam’s Haiphong Harbor, where it throttled a key supply line. But advancing air defenses eventually made dropping mines in constricted waters too perilous for U.S. aviators. Now the advance of stand-off kits like Boeing’s JDAM are returning the weapon to the U.S. warplanner’s kit. USAF Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha, writes more in The Diplomat, here.

The Coast Guard is using drones to find drug smugglers “more than 500 miles south of the Guatemala-El Salvador border, along the biggest narcotics smuggling corridor in the world,” AP reported Wednesday. “The Associated Press spent two weeks in February and March aboard the Stratton, the most advanced ship in the Coast Guard fleet, as 100-plus crew members patrolled the eastern Pacific, through which about 70 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S. passes.” Story, here.

Lastly today: The Marines have named a new aviation chief. But can Maj. Gen. Steven Rudder, who most recently ran U.S. Pacific Command’s strategic planning and policy directorate, get more aircraft and aviators back in the air? Marine Corps Times: “The combination of budget cuts, years of continued operations and the departure of the Corps’ most seasoned maintainers left more than half of all Marine Corps aircraft unable to fly in December.” Read on, here.