President Donald Trump shared “highly classified” intelligence with two Russian government officials—jeoparding the U.S.’s already contentious relationship with the source of said intelligence.
This happened during a meeting between Trump and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador, at the Whit House—just one day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating potential links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
An ISIS plot was the subject of the intelligence, according to The Washington Post, which broke the story. The Post redacted significant details of the plot, including the name of the city where the intelligence was gathered. The city is within ISIS territory, and if the intelligence became public, ISIS might be able to determine the identity of the people or organization providing the U.S. with the information.
Trump, on the other hand, exercised no such caution, according to The Post. He was apparently eager to share it with Kislyak and Lavrov. “”I get great intel,” he said at the meeting. “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”
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.
Some are already calling this “a firing offense,” or potentially “treason.” But even The Post admits that Trump probably didn’t break the law: the president gets to decide what information he shares with leaders of foreign governments. And we don’t know who the sources are, or whether they characterized the intelligence correctly.
Many will no doubt interpret this revelation as yet more evidence that Trump is at best a Russian stooge, and at worst, a willing participant in a vast conspiracy orchestrated by Moscow. An independent investigation, which Reps. Justin Amash and Eric Swalwell have called for, still seems like the best way to resolve the question. In the meantime, gross incompetence and stupidity, exacerbated by a sociopathic need to make inappropriate boasts (the best intelligence, everyone says so), still seem like the most logical explanations. One might have expected that in the wake of the Access Hollywood tapes, Trump had learned his lesson about making rash statements to random public figures, but apparently not. Or maybe the lesson he learned was that he truly can get away with anything.