Day 117: Trump discloses highly classified intel to — wait for it — the Russians

The intelligence, provided by a secret U.S. partner, was not intended for broad dissemination.

The Russians don’t have the U.S.’s interests at heart. Desperate to transition from regional power to world power, they have meddled with U.S. elections, backed horrific regimes and generally interfered with anything and everything that leads to making Russia great again.

Donald Trump’s longstanding fascination with — or, depending how conspiratorial you’re feeling, his being extorted by— the Russians is acutely in the public eye. You know the names and what’s been reported in the media. Flynn, Manafort, Page, Stone, Sessions, Tillerson, Kushner. Wikileaks. Secret meetings. “Forgotten” meetings. The firing of Comey.

Yesterday, The Washington Post broke a bombshell: Trump shared “highly classified” intelligence with the Russians as they put their feet up on the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.

The intelligence was of enormous importance and incredibly secretive. The information dealt with Islamic State plans and operations.

“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.”

The Post revealed that this information — provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement — was so sensitive that had been tightly restricted even within U.S. departments. Particularly problematic is the partner who provided the intelligence did not give the U.S. the okay to share the information with anyone, much less the Russians.

Trump spilled the beans on all of it, including the city where the intelligence was gathered. One former intelligence official who handled high-level intelligence on Russia told The Post that given Trump’s statements, “I don’t think that it would be that hard [for Russian spy services] to figure this out,” meaning identifying sources and techniques for this type of intelligence gathering.

References to the conversation were stricken from memoranda of the Oval Office meeting, but senior officials immediately notified the NSA and CIA heads of Trump’s actions.

Trump can single-handedly decide to declassify information and disseminate it and still steer clear of running afoul of the law. But this type of reckless handling is dangerous for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it puts the U.S.’s partner in an uneasy position of sharing future intelligence and puts its sources on the ground in extreme danger. Many Republicans at one point were worried about extreme carelessness themselves.

The fact that Trump has largely proven to be incompetent and blabs to Russia on seemingly everything is like a blini topped with honey to them.

While the White House denied The Post’s report, they — or someone very high up in at least one intelligence organization — asked the paper not to report certain details of the conversations between Trump and the Russians:

The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

The Post adding those lines to their story lets the world know they have all the details of what Trump disclosed, despite any denial that may come from the White House.

Trump does not seem happy by any of this.

117 days in, 1345 to go


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