Donald Trump is in serious trouble after leaking highly classified information from an ally in the Middle East to his Russian guests on May 10 as the investigation into Trump’s campaign team’s possible collusion with Russian government operatives continued. Those guests included Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Sergey Kislyak is at the heart of more than one of Trump’s currently investigated controversies, including meeting with current Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Republican National Convention in July as well as discussing President Obama’s sanctions with Trump’s first appointment as national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, well before Trump was inaugurated and while Flynn was still a private citizen with no authority to speak on the behalf of the U.S.
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who replaced the ousted Flynn, responded to the news again during a press briefing on Tuesday. Answering questions from the White House press corps, McMaster stood by his original statement that the “premise” of the reports were “false,” and said that “what the president discussed” was “appropriate” and in line with expectations of the president’s communications with foreign government officials. Political analysts and most other elected political officials disagree.
Somewhat alarmingly, McMaster also admitted that President Trump had no idea where the classified information originated or from whom it came to the United States.
As news of the leak broke on Monday, The Washington Post reported that:
‘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.’
Following the news that Trump leaked government intelligence, Trump’s national security advisor gave his first press conference on Monday, saying that the news reported was false and that none of it ever happened.
‘The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not discuss any military operations that were not already publicly known.’
McMaster got several things wrong in that statement. No one was reporting that Trump revealed sources, methods, or military operations. Regardless, Trump leaked intelligence considered too sensitive to share even with our allies to a foreign adversary. This is not just problematic, it could get our allied sources killed.
Needless to say, our allies may now consider no longer sharing intelligence with the United States.
For video of McMaster’s second press conference, in which he joined White House press secretary Sean Spicer for the daily briefing, see video below:
Featured image screengrab via YouTube