How did the Obama team deal with the possibility of Russian interference? Crank up the bureaucracy.
The meetings followed the procedure known in the federal government as the interagency process. The general routine was for the deputy chiefs of the relevant government agencies to meet and hammer out options for the principals—that is, the heads of the agencies—and then for the principals to hold a separate (and sometimes parallel) chain of meetings to discuss and perhaps debate before presenting choices to the president.
But for this topic, the protocols were not routine. Usually, when the White House invited the deputies and principals to such meetings, they informed them of the subject at hand and provided “read ahead” memos outlining what was on the agenda. This time, the agency officials just received instructions to show up at the White House at a certain time.
Last week as North and South Korean met, the opportunity arose for President Trump to meet North Korea's leader. A few high-level meetings and it was done - faster than expected.
Mr. Trump accepted on the spot, stunning not only Mr. Chung and the other high-level South Koreans who were with him, but also the phalanx of American officials who were gathered in the Oval Office.
His advisers had assumed the president would take more time to discuss such a decision with them first. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, both expressed caution. If you go ahead with this, they told Mr. Trump, there will be risks and downsides.
Mr. Trump brushed them off. I get it, I get it, he said.