Apparently, word now is that former Obama administration operatives within the intelligence community, also known as the “Deep State,” supposedly concerned that President Trump had shared some “highly classified information” with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. during last week’s White House visit, leaked that information to the Washington Post which was published in an article late on Monday. However, the Washington Post report noted that it is was “unlikely” that President Trump broke any national security laws.
By law as President, Mr. Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law. As president, Mr. Trump has the authority to declassify information as he sees fit, though that privilege has rarely been invoked. It is not uncommon for U.S. leaders to share information with allies and partners, but it is rare to do so with what some would consider a U.S. adversary. Executive Order 12356, signed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1982, gave the authority to the official who originally classified information to declassify it. Former President Barack Obama followed up that order with E.O. 13526 in 2009, which adjusted some of the earlier order’s provisions. Under the law, The President of the United States is the ultimate authority over the intelligence agencies that classify material, meaning President Trump can choose to classify or declassify material if he so chooses.
In addition, National Security Adviser, U.S. Army Lt. General H.R. McMaster who was in attendance at the official meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, said that nothing was shared that was not already publicly known. McMaster said that; “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and that no military operations were discussed or disclosed that were not already known publicly.
McMaster later told reporters at the White House Monday evening, that; “Other senior officials who were present, included Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, remember the meeting the same way and have both said so, as well. As a result, their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources used by the Washington Post. General McMaster further stated; “I was in the room, it didn’t happen.” Dina Powell further noted; “This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”
According to the Washington Post, current and former officials told the Post that President Trump shared information with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. that was obtained by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing agreement and was so sensitive it was withheld from U.S. allies and restricted within the U.S. government.
Further, the unidentified officials claimed that Mr. Trump’s disclosure risked cooperation from an ally that had access to the inner workings of the Islamic State, which they then shared details of with the Post. In addition the current and former officials told the Post that Mr. Trump discussed an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers as weapons on aircraft. This story of course has already been in the news publicly and was the basis for recent restrictions for flights originating from certain Middle East countries and air carriers. In addition, the intelligence may have prompted recent discussions between the U.S. and European officials to ban laptop sized electronics from flights originating from Europe. The laptop ban would expand upon an existing policy on flights originating in several Middle Eastern countries.
The unnamed officials further stated that senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and National Security Agency after the meeting. Which is unlikely the case, and didn’t actually occur that way — as standard procedures are to notify along with an official Presidential transcript to all respective agencies about the descriptions of all discussions and phone calls that the President has with foreign leaders. This I can speak from experience with having been involved in numerous types of presidential communications and discussions during my time on the National Security Council staff.
Unfortunately, the undisclosed officials involved took umbrage to bash President Trump, portraying him as “reckless.” But of course obviously took the opportunity to look up the information from the official transcript provided by the White House and matched it with the classification of the information discussed from the original classified documents which contain the sources and methods – which in and of itself, justify the level of classification. Too their chagrin, the information that these individuals provided to the Washington Post actually has resulted in more damage to national security that what they claim the President provided to the Russians.
Another “former senior U.S. official, obviously from the Obama administration and considered close to current administration officials” said of President Trump that he; “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. And it’s all clouded because of this problem he has with Russia.” Further, the sources that contacted and leaked the information to the Washington Post also claimed that Trump seemed to be “boasting” about his inside knowledge of the threat. The officials said that Mr. Trump; “did not reveal the specific intelligence gathering method, but described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances.” In addition, the officials noted that; “Most alarmingly, Mr. Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where so-called the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.” Again, as I noted the real national security damage was done by the leakers because it was they that leaked the name of the city to the Post, which fortunately decided to withhold most of the plot details under the at urging of current White House officials. The officials said, this is critical because unfortunately the name of the city would be useful for Russia to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved.
Further, the Washington Post said the officials declined to identify the ally that collected the information, however said, “It is one that has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.” In addition, the officials claimed President Trump described measures the U.S. has been taking, or is contemplating to counter the threat, “including military operations in Iraq and Syria, as well as other steps to tighten security,” but did not say what those were.
Contrary to what the former administration officials said, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that was false. Further, addressing the issue, saying; “During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism. During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations,” he said. President Trump ultimately had the authority to release classified information in his meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, but his alleged use of the privilege in this case appears to be perhaps a first, if at all, based on the statements and comments from SecState Tillerson, National Security Advisor McMaster and his Deputy Dina Powell, who again were all present and part of the meeting with the Russian visitors.
On the other hand, the leaks are from what now appear to be from Obama administration political appointee hold-overs, again who are part of the so-called Deep State. The leaks are obviously agenda-driven and have been deliberately orchestrated and manipulated to attempt to further damage President Troop and his administration. Following the litany of responses from Democrats on the Hill and the others who oppose President Trump — it is quite apparent that this new less than accurate false claim is an ever present opportunity to continue and maintain the false Russian narrative that continues as the primary political narrative in the news. The political propaganda campaign is obviously an effort to both explain away Hillary Clinton’s loss in November, and to continue the ever-constant and relentless barrage of 24/7 negative attacks by Democrats, Establishment Republicans, and the political left to disparage, delegitimize, and take down President Trump and his administration at any cost. This despicable, politically-driven and treasonous maneuver has been and is without a doubt being implemented and orchestrated at the behest of the “Deep State” operatives buried within the administration, to include the U.S. intelligence community.