The frenzy about Trump’s alleged leaks is hypocritical after the pass given to Hillary and, worse, it obscures truly important national security concerns.
How many things are wrong with the progressive left going to Defcon One over the claim made in the Washington Post that “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador“? I count at least three:
One, the hypocrisy meter just pegged at a new world record as progressives, who saw nothing at all wrong or illegal when Hillary, Huma, and company made an utter mockery of our intel security laws, now find the alleged violation of the same laws in a single, discrete instance to be a “high crime” worthy of impeachment.
Two, this was not a violation of our national security laws.
Three, the people at this meeting were President Trump, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Sec. of State Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. No one else was in attendance. And yet, news of what happened at this meeting leaked to the press in near real-time. I can see no reason why any of the the people in attendance at the meeting would do so. That is breathtaking. There is a real, present threat to our OPSEC that must be addressed immediately.
Here are the facts as we know them. The purpose of the May 10 meeting was, in part, to discuss civil aviation threats in light of ISIS’s work on developing bombs that can be hidden in the bodies of laptop computers and that can pass the rigors of an airport security check. My understanding is that this involves turning the computer’s lithium-ion battery itself into a bomb. Some of the intelligence that Trump discussed was provided by a foreign source.
As the Wapo article linked above tells us, the information Trump shared was based on intelligence considered top secret, code word classified. To put that in perspective, you may remember that classification level from the investigation of Hillary. She was found to have discussed information classified at that level on fourteen unsecured e-mail chains, along with thousands of e-mail chains containing information rated Secret or Confidential. Trump shared intel with Russia so that both could address deadly threats from ISIS. Hildabeast put thousands of such intel matters on an unsecured private server in order to circumvent the law for her own benefit.
At any rate, as Wapo puts it, Trump went “off script” when discussing this intelligence information. Really? Who wrote the “script” for the meeting about joint civil aviation threats and limited what Trump could or could not say? The answer to that is no one, but Wapo is choosing its words carefully to portray Trump as an undisciplined buffoon.
And indeed, if you somehow miss the subtlety of that point, Wapo helpfully states it explicitly — in anonymous quotes of course:
But officials expressed concern about Trump’s handling of sensitive information as well as his grasp of the potential consequences. Exposure of an intelligence stream that has provided critical insight into the Islamic State, they said, could hinder the United States’ and its allies’ ability to detect future threats.
“It is all kind of shocking,” said a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials. “Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security.
WaPo repeats the same message several more times in the lengthy article. I consider these MSM assholes only a slightly lesser threat to this country than ISIS itself.
That said, Wapo does at one point hint at reality — that Trump has the unfettered authority to declassify or alter the classification of information. This is the law and Trump was not blazing new ground. Indeed, when Obama thought it would help his cause, he completely stripped all security ratings from information that he then made public.
Do recall how Obama, a month before leaving office, greatly expanded the number of people on the “need to know” list of certain types of intelligence in what was likely an effort to facilitate leaks about the Trump administration. Yet, Wapo tries to muddy this somewhat by creating wiggle room for a claim that Trump committed illegal act:
For almost anyone in government, discussing such matters with an adversary would be illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.
Unlikely? Horse manure. This is bright line law as to the President.
Again, just as a reminder, all of the intel that Hillary discussed in her e-mail chains were classified by authorities outside of the State Department, meaning that Hillary explicitly lacked any authority to alter the classification. As an aside, it seems that there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of e-mail chains discussing intelligence generated by the State Dept. itself that the State Dept. deemed unclassified for purposes of the FBI investigation in order to protect Hillary, but which have subsequently been labeled classified by the State Dept. Hillary did have the authority to declassify those bits of information, but none other.
Then Wapo uses up paragraphs to offer speculation from “intelligence” professionals, without revealing either the actual intelligence nor the identities of the analysts, about how much damage Trump has done to our national security and our relations with foreign intelligence services. Spare me.
When Hildabeast released code word classified information, the intelligence professionals spoke on the record and their bias or lack thereof could be evaluated. Here, we are being asked to trust that Wapo accurately conveyed what it learned to an intel analyst, accurately reported the response of the analyst, and that the analyst was him or herself not biased. That is a bridge too far in the extreme given the track record of our MSM, virtually all of whom seem to be progressive operatives with bylines. I would instead suggest that a more appropriate take is that provided by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, a man present at the May 10 meeting, whose statement appears below with an intro from Powerline:
Although General McMaster serves as President Trump’s national security adviser at the pleasure of the president, he is a man of unblemished reputation and unusual credibility. His words deserve our attention. This is McMaster’s statement in its entirety:
A brief statement for the record. There is nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the [Russian] foreign minister [Sergey Lavrov] reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of the state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on the record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. And I was in the room. It didn’t happen. Thanks, everybody.
Trump himself has defended his actions on twitter, writing:
As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.
He no doubt feels the need to defend himself from the MSM category 5 shit storm that has hit in the wake of the Wapo article.
As of a few hours before publishing this post, here was what appeared on Memorandum as the progs went to Defcon One . . . (although, they had been at Defcon One over Comey and, well, ever since Jan. 20 over one thing or another. . . but this is a new Defcon One.) (pictures omitted):
Washington Post: Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador — 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 … Discussion: Shareblue, The Atlantic, Politico, Washington Monthly, The Hill, Bloomberg, ThinkProgress, Talking Points Memo, Vox, Power Line, Axios, Newsmax, Daily Kos, Townhall.com, Mother Jones, USA Today, Raw Story, Wall Street Journal, The American Mirror, New York Magazine, Tennessean.com, CNBC, Fox News, The Guardian, Media Matters for America, CNN, Political Insider blog, Washington Post, Just Security, National Review, Sputnik International, Fox News Insider, NBC News, Washington Free Beacon, BillMoyers.com, WGN-TV, Outside the Beltway, Mediaite, New York Times, The Gateway Pundit, Hullabaloo, Hot Air, IJR, Politicus USA, Associated Press, CBS New York, AOL, Mashable, Washington Times, Daily Mail, The Week, emptywheel, Lawyers, Guns & Money, The Times of Israel, Washingtonian, Taylor Marsh, Informed Comment, Reuters, Roll Call, twitchy.com, RedState, ABC News, Scared Monkeys, France 24, TheStreet, CBS Philly, ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES, PRI, The Root, TheBlaze, Little Green Footballs, No More Mister Nice Blog, Hit & Run, Refinery29, The Last Tradition and Patterico’s Pontifications
David Brooks / New York Times: When the World Is Led by a Child — At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist or a big business corporatist. — But as Trump has settled into his White House role, he has given a series of long interviews … Discussion: Daily Kos, Mediaite and Raw Story
JGoldsmith / Lawfare:
Bombshell: Initial Thoughts on the Washington Post’s Game-Changing Story — Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak / Russian Foreign Ministry — The Washington Post this afternoon published a stunning story reporting … Discussion: The Atlantic, RedState, The Guardian, Mediaite, AOL, The Week, Washington Post and bradford-delong.com
Ashley Parker / Washington Post: Trump acknowledges ‘facts’ shared with Russian envoys during White House meeting — President Trump appeared to acknowledge Tuesday that he revealed highly classified information to Russia — a stunning confirmation of a Washington Post story and a move that contradicted his own White House team after it scrambled to deny the report. Discussion: Mediaite, Instapundit, Axios, Gizmodo, Media Matters for America, The Times of Israel, Politico, Sputnik International, The Week, WREG-TV, Raw Story, Althouse, WATE-TV, twitchy.com and The Atlantic
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine: The Law Can’t Stop Trump. Only Impeachment Can. — Shortly after the Washington Post’s devastating report that President Trump “revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador” and “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State,” Republicans in Congress began to weigh in. Discussion: Washington Post, Daily Kos, FiveThirtyEight, The Week, Politicus USA and Axios
Stephen Collinson / CNN: Why the latest White House crisis is a really big deal — Trump’s discussing classified information with the Russian foreign minister impacts his political standing and US national security interests — (CNN)Donald Trump’s latest crisis — over his reported disclosure of highly classified information … Discussion: WTVR-TV and The Week
BuzzFeed: Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information To Russians During White House Visit — The president discussed classified national security information with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister last week, two US officials confirmed to BuzzFeed News. — President Trump revealed highly … Discussion: Politico, Shakesville, CNN, Washington Post, National Review, CNBC, Mediaite, The Daily Caller, The Guardian, Raw Story, The Atlantic, Real Clear Politics, The Week, Ynetnews, Talking Points Memo, Axios, Vox, Reuters, CBS New York, Mashable, Politicus USA, Daily Kos, The Times of Israel, Lawyers, Guns & Money, The Mahablog, ABC News, Hot Air, Fox News Insider, TheBlaze, Mother Jones and Refinery29
Euan McKirdy / CNN: Sally Yates: Russians had ‘real leverage’ over Michael Flynn — Watch Anderson Cooper’s full, exclusive interview with Yates on CNN and CNN International Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on “AC360.” — (CNN)Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates said former national security adviser Michael Flynn was in a Discussion: New Yorker, Politico and Political Insider blog
Wall Street Journal: Trump Shared Intelligence Secrets With Russians in Oval Office Meeting — President Donald Trump shared sensitive intelligence obtained from a close U.S. ally with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in a meeting last week, according to U.S. officials. Discussion: The Week
New York Times: Trump Revealed Highly Classified Intelligence to Russia, in Break With Ally — WASHINGTON — President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information … Discussion: Axios, Indy Week, Washington Post, CNBC, Mediaite, The Week, The Gateway Pundit, Politico, The Atlantic, Washington Free Beacon, Vox, CBS Boston and Mother Jones
Kristina Wong / Breitbart: Deep State Leaks Highly Classified Info to Washington Post to Smear President Trump Discussion: Politico, Bloomberg, Daily Kos, CNN, Mediaite, Washington Post, Just Security, Washington Free Beacon, Washington Times, The Week, The Hill, Talking Points Memo, Power Line, Vox, Media Matters for America, CNBC, Axios and Shareblue
Katya Golubkova / Reuters: Russia’s response to Trump leak reports: don’t read U.S. newspapers 25 minutes ago. Discussion: IJR
Jordain Carney / The Hill: GOP senator: Senate panel needs briefing on whether Trump shared info Discussion: RedState, Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, Outside the Beltway, fox5sandiego.com and The Daily Caller
Jan M. Olsen / Associated Press: THE LATEST: EUROPEAN COUNTRY MIGHT HALT US INTEL-SHARING 10 minutes ago Discussion: The Week
Eliot A. Cohen / The Atlantic: The Terrible Cost of Trump’s Disclosures Discussion: Politico, Washington Post, The Guardian, CNBC, Gizmodo, Media Matters for America, AOL, Vox, Associated Press, New York Times, Daily Mail, Raw Story, Talking Points Memo, Mediaite, ThinkProgress, Axios and Politicus USA
CNN: Congress’ exasperated as White House in ‘downward spiral’ Discussion: ThinkProgress and Vox
Oliver Darcy / CNNMoney: Pro-Trump media dismisses bombshell report the president shared classified info Discussion: CNN, Axios, Politico, The Week, The Gateway Pundit, Washington Post, Talking Points Memo and Raw Story
Ian Schwartz / RealClearPolitics: McMaster: “The Story That Came Out Tonight As Reported Is False” 20 minutes ago Discussion: Washington Post, Axios, Politico, CNBC, CNN, NBC News, Raw Story, The Guardian, TheBlaze,
The Atlantic, Vox, Washington Times, New York Magazine, Daily Mail, Bloomberg and Power Line
Josh Meyer / Politico: Trump’s handling of classified info brings new chaos to White House Discussion: The Week, Raw Story and Axios
The Daily Beast: White House Staff ‘Hiding’ As Russia Chaos Engulfs West Wing … White House and administration officials are reeling at reports that President Donald Trump reportedly shared classified information with Russia’s top diplomats during an Oval Office meeting last week. Discussion: Raw Story, New York Magazine and Shareblue
This is overreaction on a scale I have never seen before. These people are nuts. They are going to start a shooting war in this country — and it will not go well for them.
There is a real story here, though it appears in none of the links above. Given the limited number of people in the room and their identities, how in the hell did this get leaked in near real time?
To say that there are moles in the Trump administration who want to see him brought down is the mother of all understatements. And this leak was about top-secret compartmentalized information that, despite Trump’s decision to discuss it in its generalities with the Russian foreign minister and Ambassador, does not in any way change the security classification for any other purpose or person. Yet they apparently shared the information with Wapo, who then seems to have disseminated the intelligence widely in order to get reactions to print in its screed.
Somebody just committed a treasonous crime, and that someone most certainly stands in a position of trust and confidence with a top secret security clearance. Moreover, anyone who received this information from Wapo while holding a security clearance and who did not report it is likewise guilty of a felony. That is the real story. And if Trump has any sense, he will authorize the head of the FBI to make it priority one to find out who leaked this story to Wapo and who neglected to follow OPSEC procedures and have them spend the rest of their natural lives in a prison cell — hopefully one next to that actual serial felon as regards our national security, Hillary.