Donald Trump defends giving Russians classified information

Twitter - @RealDonaldTrump
Donald Trump (Twitter – @RealDonaldTrump)

Donald Trump revealed highly classified information during his meeting last week at the White House with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, and his disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on ISIS, The Washington Post reported. Of course, Trump doubled down on his actions in a collection of Twitter posts, stating that he has an “absolute right to do so.”

Trump seemed much more interested, as is Fox News, with catching the “leakers” who are divulging this information to the media instead of fixing his own actions that created the problem in the first place and may have endangered missions overseas. Moreover, Trump’s explanation seems to deviate from the White House’s original statement in which they denied giving up sensitive information and refuted The Washington Post’s report.

Furthermore, which makes Trump look even worse, The Post printed that the information Trump relayed was provided through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that “details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.”

The United States did not have permission to share the information with Russia, and Trump’s decision to do so has endangered the cooperation of an ally who has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State, according to The Post. Senior White House officials reportedly took steps to contain the damage after Trump’s meeting by placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

Trump, who has never admitted any wrongdoing publicly since he became a presidential candidate, fired back in a typical series of Twitter rants to justify his position:

The Post’s report just adds to the already problematic week Trump has been having in the wake of his firing of FBI Director James Comey as Comey’s agency is in the midst of investigating the president’s ties to Russia.

Despite Trump’s flagrant and sloppy mistake that jeopardizes important missions abroad, however, Trump likely did not break the law.

As the Post notes, had anyone else in government been discussing this subject with a known adversary of the United States, it would be considered illegal, but because he is the president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets. This means that even though he may be wrong for doing so, he likely did not break the law by revealing these secrets to Russia.

“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who participated in the meeting, said. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

The Post also stated it 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.”

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