When the puppet master pulls the strings, the puppet responds in kind. 

Courtesy of NYT:

Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Putin that day lasted more than two hours. Afterward, Mr. Trump took his interpreter’s notes and instructed the interpreter not to brief anyone. Mr. Tillerson told reporters that the leaders discussed everything from Syria to Ukraine, but he also described “a very robust and lengthy exchange” on the election hacking.

A few hours later, Mr. Trump sought out Mr. Putin again during a dinner for all the leaders. Videotape later made public showed Mr. Trump pointing at Mr. Putin, who was seated across and down a long table, then pointing at himself and then making a pumping motion with his fist.

Mr. Trump later told The Times that he went over to see his wife, Melania Trump, who was sitting next to Mr. Putin, and the two leaders then talked, with Mr. Putin’s interpreter translating. No American officials were present, and the White House did not confirm the encounter until more than 10 days later, after it was independently reported.

The day after the two meetings, as Mr. Trump was on Air Force One taking off from Germany heading back to Washington, he telephoned a Times reporter and argued that the Russians were falsely accused of election interference. While he insisted most of the conversation be off the record, he later repeated a few things in public in little-noticed asides.

He said that he raised the election hacking three times and that Mr. Putin denied involvement. But he said Mr. Putin also told him that “if we did, we wouldn’t have gotten caught because we’re professionals.” Mr. Trump said: “I thought that was a good point because they are some of the best in the world” at hacking.

Asked how he weighed Mr. Putin’s denials against the evidence that had been presented to him by Mr. Comey; John O. Brennan, then the C.I.A. director; and James R. Clapper Jr., then director of national intelligence, he said that Mr. Clapper and Mr. Brennan were the “most political” intelligence chiefs he knew and that Mr. Comey was “a leaker.”

Now just let this just swirl around in your brain a little. 

Here is the man elected to lead the United States of America, taking the side of a historic American foe in his denial that he did not commit a crime, that our own intelligence agencies state emphatically he did commit. 

Add to this that Trump did so while he himself was under suspicion for working with the Russians to sway the election, and this simply seems too unbelievable to be true. 

And yet it is. 

In fact, that reason that I did not report on this story yesterday was that we already knew that Trump had sided with Putin over our own intelligence agencies. 

I thought it was old news, right up until I paid attention to the fact that Trump was contacting the NYT’s reporter directly, off the record, to convince them that they were incorrect about Russia’s involvement in hacking the 2016 election. And doing this clearly on behalf of Vladimir Putin. 

THAT makes it a much bigger deal.