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.
My understanding is that the president is the only person with security clearance who is free to share classified information at his discretion, though the decision in this case may betray security agreements with allies.
I'm in no position to say whether Trump's sharing of classified information in this instance represents a dangerous breach of security. I am, however, able to assess Donald Trump's capacity to exercise sound judgment in handling classified information.
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.
Dating back to last summer, I had numerous conversations with colleagues and friends predicting exactly this kind of breach, along with predictions of many other behaviors we've seen. It was all predicted while the press was diddling around with speculation on when Trump would pivot to sober, moderate seriousness.
Predictions like this aren't pulled out of thin air or based on vague feelings about what Trump might do. They're based on many observations and an understanding of how a person's observable words and behaviors reveal how that person will behave in variety of situations.
I'll tell you what else you can bet on. Trump's been blabbing classified information to his kids and others who don't have security clearance.
President Donald Trump’s allegedly loose lips with the Russians could have caused serious damage to U.S. efforts to counter the Islamic State, intelligence experts and former government security officials of both parties said Monday night.
"If true, it is another indication that you cannot possibly control this guy," Wayne White, a senior intelligence official at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, told POLITICO. "There are red lines that even presidents are not supposed to be crossing. He has to be protecting his own assets. It is really frightening for our people, especially the people who managed the relationship in getting the information."
"This is really the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community," Ned Price, a former CIA officer and member of the National Security Council staff under former President Barack Obama, told MSNBC.
Eliot Cohen, another Bush-era State Department official and professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, called the report "appalling."
"If accidental, it would be a firing offense for anyone else," Cohen tweeted. "If deliberate, it would be treason."