The Jury Talks Back

5/15/2017

Washington Post: President Trump Revealed Highly Classified Info To Russian Officials (Update Added)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here we go:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft…

Further:

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

The report clarifies that President Trump “has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.”

This statement from H.R. McMaster is being volleyed back and forth by various factions as to whether it is a denial of the story, or a tacit confirmation of it:

“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who participated in the meeting. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

The White House has begun to push back against the story, with Deputy NSA Dina Powell claiming that it’s false:

“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Allahpundit raises a couple of interesting points:

Two U.S. officials told BuzzFeed after WaPo’s story dropped that it’s true and “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.” Reportedly the Senate Intelligence Committee has been briefed about it. Exit question one: Hey, remember this story from January? Exit question two via David Frum: If you’re a U.S. natsec professional, how do you prevent this from happening again? Start withholding information from the president? There’s no way to stop him from blurting out classified info in the course of conversation once the conversation’s begun. The only way is to keep it from him in the first place. Although the fact that this incredibly embarrassing mishap has been leaked may be their way of trying to shame Trump into preparing more diligently for meetings going forward and being far more careful about what he says. (Especially since he’s leaving on his first foreign trip as president soon.) In the end, maybe the only way to get through to him is with bad press.

Apparently National Security Adviser HR McMaster will be addressing the Washington Post report any moment.

UPDATE:

Untitled

–Dana

36 Comments »

  1. I don’t trust either the WaPo or the WH, so I guess I’ll take a wait and see attitude on this. However, while I understand the hysteria this issue is causing within the left and Trump-hating elements of the country—mainly because we felt the same way regularly during Obama’s administration—I feel a continued sense of despondence this morning after listening to “right-leaning” talk show hosts exclaim that even IF Trump did this it’s just a rookie mistake and is no big deal.

    I swear, those talking heads that were screaming during Hillary’s email scandal but are now claiming this is a nothing burger all the while while attacking WaPo’s credibility have to be the biggest group of tone-deaf idiots I’ve seen.

    Comment by Sean — 5/16/2017 @ 5:41 am

  2. Trump’s biggest problem now, other than his mouth, is the fact that he never replaced so many if the Obama federal government appointees in the hundreds of agencies and departments. Maybe he didn’t care about it during his transition, or maybe he was too ignorant to know how important it is, but he is paying for it now. It will be impossible for Trump to convince Republicans to join his Administration in those federal government jobs, bease anyone who has career goals and is watching this knows the risk from joining this sinking ship isn’t worth it.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/16/2017 @ 5:51 am

  3. These problems will only get worse as long as he has this staffing problem — which at this point he can’t fix — and there aren’t enough lawyers in the world to stop all the leaks.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/16/2017 @ 5:53 am

  4. It’s sad, actually. This was our golden opportunity to reset our government to a conservative agenda and shout to the world what a difference conservative policies make. And all we got was a big mouth who loves gold.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/16/2017 @ 5:57 am

  5. This is my point here:

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/not-every-scandal-is-a-magic-bullet-and-the-hysteria-is-helping-trump/news-story/bcb491ddafc315dd8e30a05a8ce753b1

    Comment by SPQR — 5/16/2017 @ 6:41 am

  6. Not getting impeached is a pretty low dtandard, but why would the Democrats even want to at this point? He’s a lame duck for now.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/16/2017 @ 9:25 am

  7. It is equally possible to view the media with much deserved disdain and view Trump as incompetent at the same time. Trump’s foolish lack of restraint combined with an agenda-driven media make for gotcha headlines as well as give evidence of the president causing chaos to ensue.

    Comment by Dana — 5/16/2017 @ 10:36 am

  8. Dana, all the “chaos” here is in the Washington Post’s imagination. Some intelligence official lost the argument about how much intel to reveal to convince other nations to join the laptop ban. And with the connivance of the Wash Post, its now a huge scandal? Nope.

    I’m not covering for Trump, I don’t think he’s any more competent than I thought last year. I don’t think the laptop ban is actually useful – I think most of our aviation security protocols are nonsense intended to fool the public that the TSA are not the incompetent buffoons they have always been.

    But this is truly a temptest in a teapot.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/16/2017 @ 10:59 am

  9. I’m not talking specifically about this whatever-it-is (and I don’t know), SPQR, but more a general observation. Both components lead to whatever the latest chaos or confusion is.

    Comment by Dana — 5/16/2017 @ 11:20 am

  10. Also, I don’t have a vested interest: I’m not a Trump supporter and I don’t trust the media.

    I like this from Goldberg:

    In other words, I get why you don’t trust the Washington Post. I don’t get why you trust the Trump administration.

    Comment by Dana — 5/16/2017 @ 11:25 am

  11. Hm, I would amend my comment to express while I don’t support Trump (nor trust the media) I do want the president, any president, to have great success on behalf of the nation.

    Comment by Dana — 5/16/2017 @ 12:00 pm

  12. Goldberg nailed it with his “heads I win, tails you lose” observation.

    I also agree with SPQR, the histrionics is only serving to embolden Trump’s cult and with each “impeachable moment” ending in a whimper only solidifies the press’ damaged credibility.

    Comment by Sean — 5/16/2017 @ 12:01 pm

  13. It’s a tempest in a teapot only if the intelligence continues to flow between the US and foreign governments, and provided no ISIS infiltrator is jeopardized. But if either one of those things are affected by this tempest, I think it is a big deal.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/16/2017 @ 1:40 pm

  14. I guess I’m the only one that recalls enough about US government dealings with Israel, especially for the three decades, not to believe that Israel has ever trusted the US intel community.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/16/2017 @ 2:55 pm

  15. ABC reporting (yeah I know) Trump’s loose lips has endangered Israeli asset in ISIS.

    Comment by Sean — 5/16/2017 @ 6:10 pm

  16. Sean,

    I agree these events have increased the melodramatic comments, probably from both sides but I especially notice the increase from the Trump supporters. Ann Coulter has doubts and it appears some of the online community is starting to doubt their hero, too.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/17/2017 @ 6:01 am

  17. Trump may have compromised a valuable intelligence source. If this is true, we can’t fight terrorism like this and successfully protect ourselves and our country.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/18/2017 @ 8:43 am

  18. Not after 8 years of Obama’s feeble efforts.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/18/2017 @ 8:43 am

  19. Trump supposedly burned this Israeli source by naming the city where the laptop bomb project was being pursued. The city name is supposedly the clue that will burn the source. Meanwhile, the new media gets leaks from the intelligence community with the details that the source was an Israeli agent in place in ISIS.

    And its Trump that is a threat to our ability to share intel?

    Comment by SPQR — 5/18/2017 @ 9:55 am

  20. Maybe. It is if Trump started the process that led to the revelation of the covert agent, or if his loose lips made the Israelis pull their agent because they believed he was at greater risk.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/18/2017 @ 10:21 am

  21. This isn’t courtroom semantics. He talked. He admitted it. Maybe the Israelis outed their agent to get Trump but it seems unlikely.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/18/2017 @ 10:23 am

  22. Naming the city where the agent is located would help ISIS know they have a problem and where to look. That seems like a big deal to me, especially since Trump told the Russians instead of an ally who might guard our secrets. Why is this not Trump’s fault? All he had to do was keep his mouth shut.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/18/2017 @ 10:26 am

  23. I did not say it wasn’t Trump’s fault. I’m pointing out that whoever is leaking this error of Trump’s was actually doing as much if not more damage in leaking it. The “explanation” of how much of an error it was appears to disclose more than Trump did.

    I’m still of the general opinion that the Israeli’s are already cautious about sharing with the US. The Obama administration burned Israel on top secret matters on several occasions. Too many embedded Israel haters in the intel and State Dept corridors.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/18/2017 @ 12:29 pm

  24. I agree with that. How do you think Kushner fits in? Is he a rare conservative or are his sympathies with the Israel doubters?

    Comment by DRJ — 5/18/2017 @ 3:16 pm

  25. Didn’t he contribute to a settlement, that was the controversy, read Kaplan’s the arabists to understand that culture.

    Comment by narciso — 5/20/2017 @ 5:36 am

  26. That Putin would, or even could, burn the alleged Israeli asset is speculative and unlikely. Why? So he can forever convince Trump that he cannot be trusted? How? Is it likely that the Israelis, when giving this information to us, had not taken steps to protect their source?

    What is neither speculative nor unlikely, but a fact, is that the media did reveal classified information, that could help our enemies, to anyone who cared to read it.

    And I’m not saying this so Mike K will like me. 😉

    Comment by nk — 5/20/2017 @ 5:41 am

  27. It was really the Jordanians who let loose maqdissi and zarquawi on the world, who were trying to make amends for that.

    If you’re going to put a continental bloc on laptops one needs to know what underlies such a drastic step.
    .

    Comment by narciso — 5/20/2017 @ 6:08 am

  28. Authoritarian personalities see a kindred spirit in Trump.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/20/2017 @ 8:33 am

  29. I don’t understand, nk. Russia and Israel have developed a better relationship but that is despite Syria, where their interests are opposed. ISIS has strongholds in Syria. Compromising those interests is something Israel wants and Russia doesn’t want, and covert agents are a part of that process.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/20/2017 @ 8:38 am

  30. It seems to me that, like Trump himself, Trump supporters with authoritarian personalities rely on name-calling instead of debating the pros and cons of issues. It’s easier to “win” when you do that, and it’s a form of virtue-signaling that separates the members of the team from everyone else.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/20/2017 @ 8:56 am

  31. They must feel beleaguered during times like this, which may be why the name-calling intensifies when Trump is in trouble. I may certainly be wrong about all this but it makes a lot of sense to me. It gives me closure on this subject.

    In addition, I always liked to comment to connect with people in the online community. I don’t feel that need anymore.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/20/2017 @ 9:00 am

  32. Authoritarian that was the althizer Hofstadter tag against in the 60s, my reservations have been made quite clear.

    Comment by narciso — 5/20/2017 @ 9:08 am

  33. Conservatives in the 60s, whereas the opposition is totalitarianism that dare not speak its name

    Comment by narciso — 5/20/2017 @ 9:44 am

  34. DRJ, while Israel does want to see the Iran-backed Syria central government weakened (and with good reason, as they have recently fought a war with Hezbollah who is providing the bulk of the forces on Syria govt side), I don’t think they want to see Islamists like ISIS prevail there. There really isn’t a “side” in the Syrian civil war that Israel gets along with.

    Except maybe the Kurds who have been badly betrayed by us repeatedly.

    Comment by SPQR — 5/20/2017 @ 10:12 pm

  35. That’s true, but Israel has interests it is pursuing in Syria and those interests don’t align with Russia’s.

    Comment by DRJ — 5/21/2017 @ 5:51 am

  36. Sometimes there are no good sides in a contest.

    Comment by narciso — 5/21/2017 @ 7:19 am

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