The sudden resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser and the prompt flood of leaks on the matter pouring into the inboxes of top Washington D.C. journalists have created a three-way battle between The Washington Post, The New York Times and CNN.
What did President Trump know, and when did he know it? That's the big question these three media giants are trying to answer as quickly as possible.
At 9:21 p.m. on Monday evening, The New York Times sent out a news alert that read: “Intercepted calls show members of the Trump campaign had repeated contact with Russian intelligence before the election officials said.”
Then at 10 p.m. CNN’s Don Lemon said on air that "High level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in frequent communication during the campaign with Russian known to U.S. intelligence.”
At 10:51 p.m,. the Times’ Sydney Ember tweeted: “It’s a race now between the NYT, CNN and the Washington Post on this story.”
The scandal is quickly taking on extreme proportions.
Chuck Todd of NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ said on TV last night, “Welcome to day one of what is arguably the biggest presidential scandal involving a foreign government since Iran Contra. Take a breath. Hyperbole aside, folks, hunker down, because this is a class-five political hurricane that’s hitting Washington.”
Lending weight to Todd’s rendition of the situation, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command told CNN that the U.S. government is in “unbelievable turmoil.”
As with the Watergate scandal, the national press will play a crucial role in unraveling the knots tied by the Trump administration to keep its relationship with Russia hidden. Many already assumed during the campaign that then-candidate Trump was in touch with the Russians, particularly when he would ask them publicly to hack the Clinton campaign.
The leakers are already releasing information to the press in droves, but we have yet to read to what extent President Trump himself was colluding with Russia or how much he knew about his advisers’ contact with Russian officials.
Maybe there's a Pulitzer and journalistic immortality for the reporter(s) who break the “What did President Trump know, and when did he know it” story?