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Report: Trump Revealed Classified Intel to Russian Visitors to Oval Office

Via WaPo:  Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

[…]

“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.”

[…]

For most anyone in government discussing such matters with an adversary would be illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.

[…]

But officials expressed concern with Trump’s handling of sensitive information as well as his grasp of the potential consequences. Exposure of an intelligence stream that has provided critical insight into the Islamic State, they said, could hinder the United States’ and its allies’ ability to detect future threats.

“It is all kind of shocking,” said a former senior U.S. official close to current administration officials. “Trump 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.”

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” Trump said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States only learned through the espionage capabilities of a key partner.

More at the link.

On the one hand, this is not surprising in the least.  Trump’s personality lends itself to this kind of self-aggrandizing recklessness.  On the other hand, this is pretty remarkable since supposedly the best argument for not electing Clinton was her handling of classified info.  I would note that even the worst case version of her e-mails never reached, to my recollection, this kind of compromising of intel.

 

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Blue Galangal says:

    I think you missed the money quote. He wants a page of bullet points, but can’t even comprehend those.

    U.S. officials said that the National Security Council continues to prepare multi-page briefings for Trump to guide him through conversations with foreign leaders but that he has insisted that the guidance be distilled to a single page of bullet points, and often ignores those.

    “He seems to get in the room or on the phone and just goes with it — and that has big downsides,” the second former official said. “Does he understand what’s classified and what’s not? That’s what worries me.”

    But… her emails!!

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  2. David M says:

    Endless screaming….

    Nothing matters…

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    “But the POTUS has broad legal authority to commit treason…”

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. al-Alameda says:

    And, by this morning a ‘president’ Hillary Clinton would already have been the subject of a half dozen new investigations and The House would be drafting articles on impeachment.

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  5. Mr. Bluster says:

    I would note that even the worst case version of her e-mails never reached, to my recollection, this kind of compromising of intel.

    Lock Him Up! Lock Him Up! Lock Him Up! Lock Him Up!

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    This post should be on the main page.

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 1

  7. Scott says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    there’s more: From Foreign Policy

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/15/nato-frantically-tries-to-trump-proof-presidents-first-visit-alliance-europe-brussels/

    NATO is scrambling to tailor its upcoming meeting to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span. The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion, several sources inside NATO and former senior U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy. And the alliance scrapped plans to publish the traditional full post-meeting statement meant to crystallize NATO’s latest strategic stance.

    “It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump,” said one source briefed extensively on the meeting’s preparations. “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They’re freaking out.”

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  8. Paul L. says:

    So who is the real, named source for smoking gun story that will guarantee Trump’s impeachment?
    Or is it “officials familiar with the matter”?

    Yeah I know @michael reynolds: “Russian Apologist/Putinbot”

    ReplyReply

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 26

  9. Mr. Bluster says:

    Emperor Elect Tiny Hands:
    I don’t have to be told — you know, I’m like a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years. It could be eight years — but eight years. I don’t need that.
    OTB 12-11-2016

    Tiny Hands Today:
    “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,”

    Pick one:
    a. Judas
    b. Quisling
    c. Snake in the grass

    ReplyReply

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  10. TM01 says:

    Dammit! Only OBAMA is allowed to share classified information. And then, only to Hollywood when it will make Him look good!

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/bin-laden-raid-exposes-obama-administration-selective-secrecy

    ReplyReply

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  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Shut up.

    Really, just STFU. This is the life of an agent we’re talking about. The lives of his wife and children and friends. This is whichever overseas ally of ours provided this information now realizing they can no longer give us info on ISIS. This is every other allied intelligence agency on earth realizing they cannot trust us with their secrets. Less intel = more dead Americans.

    Trump is a traitor. And so is anyone defending this pig.

    So, STFU you bootlick.

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:

    Right, because a book written after the fact is what this is, you dishonest clown.

    Treason apologist.

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  13. TM01 says:

    Obama even threatened the British spy agencies. Why stop at just destroying America’s intelligence gathering apparatus when you can destroy that of our allies’ as well!

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/11/underwear-bomb-plot-mi6-cia-leaks

    ReplyReply

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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:
    Traitor.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  15. TM01 says:

    LULZ

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/160696999931

    ReplyReply

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  16. Yank says:

    I see R’s are already trying to deflect…..lol, keep trying assholes. You own this mess.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  17. Mikey says:

    This goddamn moron is going to break up Five Eyes.

    ReplyReply

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  18. Lit3Bolt says:

    Hey Team Trump…either Trump doesn’t know he’s a traitor, because he’s legendarily stupid, or he does, and he’s actively colluding with the Russians.

    Those are your two choices.

    ReplyReply

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  19. david says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Could be a combination of the two, he’s stupid AND he colludes with the Russians because they feed his ego.

    Psychotic narcissism, with the Alt-Right and the Russians using it to advantage.

    BTW, is that why the two Russians were laughing so much in those photos?

    ReplyReply

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @TM01: You understand that Scott Adams is an idiot MRA freak, don’t you?

    ReplyReply

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  21. MikeSJ says:

    @Lit3Bolt:


    Hey Team Trump…either Trump doesn’t know he’s a traitor, because he’s legendarily stupid, or he does, and he’s actively colluding with the Russians.

    Those are your two choices.

    Can I go with a third option? How about early stage Dementia?

    ReplyReply

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  22. AndrewBW says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if it really happened, but the entire story is made up of anonymous quotes. I want to see a real name before I start yelling impeachment.

    ReplyReply

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  23. Scott says:

    Who leaked to the Washington Post? How about the Russians? They are at risk of a stroke from all the laughing they are doing.

    ReplyReply

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  24. david says:

    The Week has an update on this story:

    —–
    In a hastily put together press conference, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on Monday night The Washington Post’s report that President Trump shared with Russian officials last week highly classified information is “false,” later adding, “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”
    —–

    Here’s the problem: Who’s credible in this administration, anymore? They’ve already shown that they have absolutely no issue with blatantly lying to the country about almost every single thing they do, no matter how major or how utterly insignificant.

    So, how are we to believe them? They have no credibility.

    ReplyReply

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  25. Hal_10000 says:

    With the caveat that this is early reporting on anonymous sources and we’ve been burned before …

    Good. Lord. This is staggering incompetence.

    Trump is a traitor

    That would require malice aforethought. He’s dim-bulb possibly senile man who can’t resist bragging to anyone who will stand still long enough. Honestly, we’re lucky he didn’t show the Russians (or the Chinese) the nuclear football.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. Scott says:

    In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day

    Classic narcissistic bully: Suck up, punch down.

    Truly revolting

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. Steve V says:

    There’s something too-perfectly Trumpian about this story. Bragging about all the “great intel” he gets?

    If it’s true, yikes. If it isn’t true, I sure wonder how it got out.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. Mikey says:

    @david: I read a bit more on that denial. Apparently McMaster basically denied a bunch of stuff that wasn’t actually in the Post story. It was the usual administration spin, they just sent him out because he’s the only one left with any credibility.

    Et tu, H. R.? It makes me very sad. I had a great deal of admiration for him.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  29. Mikey says:

    @AndrewBW: The Post is pretty scrupulous about verifying sources and corroborating statements. It may not rise to the level of impeachment, but it’s still pretty damn bad.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  30. AndrewBW says:

    @Mikey: Lawfare comes down very hard on Trump.

    Bombshell: Initial Thoughts on the Washington Post’s Game-Changing Story
    https://www.lawfareblog.com/bombshell-initial-thoughts-washington-posts-game-changing-story

    ReplyReply

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  31. David M says:

    Maybe we could ask the Russians to help us confirm some of the details?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Mikey says:

    Excellent analysis, as per usual, from Lawfare.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/bombshell-initial-thoughts-washington-posts-game-changing-story

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Hal_10000:

    If someone is giving him smart legal advice, he’ll use dementia as his out and resign. The heat is turning up, and by all indications, is only going to get worse.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Senyordave says:

    Another test for the Republicans. Are there any party leaders who care more about the country than their party? Or can all of them be bought off with tax cuts for the wealthy or jobs for their spouses? I’m hoping for a few to break the floodgate and then others to follow, but it would take a person with a little integrity.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. P says:

    @David M: Let’s just ask Trump. I’m sure he’ll brag about it within 48 hours.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. Mikey says:

    @AndrewBW: GMTA, haha…

    Yes, and their analysis of McMaster’s non-denial denial is pretty harsh, too.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Hal_10000 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I knew it would be bad. I didn’t know it would be this bad.

    ReplyReply

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  38. CSK says:

    God help us.

    I despise this lying sack of cretinous sh!t.

    ReplyReply

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  39. Janis Gore says:

    Buzzfeed has confirmed:

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimdalrympleii/trump-highly-classified-information-russians?utm_term=.wtdRaYYO0#.ukBy7LLBp

    “Two US officials who were briefed on Trump’s disclosures last week confirmed to BuzzFeed News the veracity of the Washington Post report, with one noting that “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.”

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. Janis Gore says:

    Reuters has a bit of additional reporting:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-idUSKCN18B2MX

    “U.S. officials have told Reuters they have long been concerned about disclosing highly classified intelligence to Trump.

    One official, who requested anonymity to discuss dealing with the president, said last month: ‘He has no filter; it’s in one ear and out the mouth.'”

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. Janis Gore says:

    Reaction inside White House from Politico:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/trump-russia-classified-information-238417

    “But several advisers and others close to Trump said they wouldn’t be surprised if Trump gave information he shouldn’t have.

    One adviser who often speaks to the president said the conversation was likely freewheeling in the Oval Office, and he probably wanted to impress the officials.

    “He doesn’t really know any boundaries. He doesn’t think in those terms,” this adviser said. “He doesn’t sometimes realize the implications of what he’s saying. I don’t think it was his intention in any way to share any classified information. He wouldn’t want to do that.”

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. CSK says:

    @Janis Gore:

    “He wouldn’t want to do that.”

    Gee, I can’t tell you how f*cking relieved I am by that revelation.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Paul L.: This is what you chose over someone–anyone, it didn’t even have to be a Democrat–competent. No amount of deflecting will remove that YOU CHOSE THIS! Wear it good health; it’s all yours!

    ReplyReply

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  44. Janis Gore says:

    @CSK:

    Combine all that with this tweetstorm:

    https://twitter.com/LorenRaeDeJ/status/863452398295146496

    And we should have an interesting couple of weeks.

    ReplyReply

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  45. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    Not only that, but after all the shouting is over, you’re not even going to get Obamacare repealed, your wall, or the middle class’s share of any tax cut. You own whatever happens.

    ReplyReply

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  46. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @AndrewBW: Don’t care about impeachment; not gonna happen. Guys like you will keep deflecting it.

    I do wish that Trump were wiser and a better person, but that’s not gonna happen either. The GOP owns this. They built it.

    ReplyReply

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  47. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Janis Gore:

    Then he’s unfit to fulfill his Constitutional Oath.

    ReplyReply

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  48. JohnMcC says:

    What no one has mentioned is the fact that he GAVE THIS STUFF UP FOR FREE. He’s s’posed to be the great negotiator. He despises people who’re on the losing end of deals. And he just frigging gave it up.

    Coulda been worth Billions!

    ReplyReply

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  49. Janis Gore says:

    And the Republican responses are varied:

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/politics/trump-russia-classified-information/index.html

    “Sen. James Risch, an Idaho Republican, defended Trump on the story, telling reporters: “The minute the President speaks about it to someone, he has the ability to declassify anything at any time without any process.”

    See, it’s all right then.

    ReplyReply

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  50. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and Reuters all found sources to confirm this story.

    But of all those sources, not one thought it so critically important that they would put the nation’s interest ahead of their own and put their name on their story.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  51. Janis Gore says:

    @Hal_10000:

    All the reports’ sources are “two US officials” so it could be they’re all talking about the same people.

    I’d like to see something more.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  52. bookdragon says:

    Okay, I’m just going to point to what someone with some intel background thinks about why this story was leaked. He may be wrong, but this made more sense to me than anything else, especially considering that by spilling CI to the Russians Trump made himself and the others in the room subject to blackmail.

    https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/05/15/monday-late-evening-open-thread/#comment-6379753

    No. While I only no what was reported, that is clearly not what happened. What people need to understand is that this was leaked to the press, with heavy caveats and conditions to not make the disclosure worse, in order to prevent the President, or anyone else in the room with him, from being blackmailed by the Russians over this. The Russians have their own notes. Because they were allowed to bring a team from TASS with them as part of their delegation, and the TASS staffers brought their equipment, there is no way to be sure that the Russians don’t have recordings. My guess is that once it because clear to the IC folks in the know on this information that TASS had been there with their equipment and taken pictures, because the Russians released the pictures, a decision was made to try to mitigate the damage by leaking to the press ahead of the Russians. The leak is itself intended to inoculate and immunize the President and everyone else from the US side that was in the room so the Russians cannot hold this over their heads. Full stop.

    ReplyReply

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  53. @Bob The Arqubusier:

    The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and Reuters all found sources to confirm this story.

    But of all those sources, not one thought it so critically important that they would put the nation’s interest ahead of their own and put their name on their story.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/report-trump-revealed-classified-intel-to-russian-visitors-to-oval-office/#ixzz4hDESq31c

    A) This isn’t unusual.

    B) It is not unusual for defenders of an administration to decry anonymous sources (often because they cannot defend the actual actions of the administration in question).

    ReplyReply

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  54. @Janis Gore:

    I’d like to see something more.

    Well, indeed.

    ReplyReply

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  55. Deep Throat says:

    @Blunderbuss Bob:..These are my advocates fool.
    Leave them alone.

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  56. @Steven L. Taylor:

    A) This isn’t unusual.

    By which I mean stories having anonymous sources.

    ReplyReply

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  57. DrDaveT says:

    @Mikey:

    It may not rise to the level of impeachment, but it’s still pretty damn bad.

    For those of you scoring at home, there are many distinct levels of classified information:
    Confidential
    Secret
    Top Secret
    Special Compartmentalized Information
    SAP / SAR
    (?)
    Code Word

    If this was really “code word” information, that’s… the mind boggles.

    ReplyReply

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  58. JohnMcC says:

    @bookdragon: Well, that’s not a bad interpretation. I visit balloon-juice daily and like ’em a lot. So good for them and thanx for linking to ’em.

    Sure would give a reasonable answer to the questions I’ve seen asked several times since the Post broke this: Who in that room pulled the alarm bells and who went to the media (and why)?

    ReplyReply

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  59. Janis Gore says:

    Who has a sub to the WSJ? It has something up now but I can’t read it. Anything new?

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  60. Deep Throat says:

    (often because they cannot defend the actual actions of the administration in question).

    It was a Haldeman operation. The whole business was run by Haldeman, the money, everything. It won’t be easy getting at him, he was insulated, you’ll have to find out how. Mitchell started doing covert stuff before anyone else, the list is longer than anyone can imagine… it involves the entire U.S. Intelligence Community. FBI… CIA… Justice… it’s incredible. Cover-up had little to do with Watergate, it was mainly to protect the covert operations. It leads everywhere. Get out your notebook, there’s more. Your lives are in danger

    .

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  61. David M says:

    Maybe we only give Trump fake news from now on, and we agree he’s working when he’s golfing?

    Couldn’t be much worse.

    ReplyReply

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  62. panda says:

    I simply can’t believe that reasonable people are hang on the “anonymouse sources stuff.” Newsflash: every scoop in recorded history relies on anonymous sources.

    ReplyReply

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  63. Lit3Bolt says:

    ‘I never thought Russians would steal MY secrets,’ sobs woman who voted for the Russia Steals Everyone’s Secrets Party.

    ReplyReply

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  64. Hal_10000 says:

    Trump just had a Twitter rant:

    “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining……to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

    So I would say that basically confirms the report.

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  65. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: When a publication uses only anonymous sources for a story, they are asking for the trust of the readership that 1) the sources exist; 2) the sources actually said what the publication says they said; and 3) the sources were telling the truth.

    You apparently have a great deal of faith in these publications.

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  66. James Pearce says:

    Three short years after a Buk missile shot MH17 out of the sky, Trump is revealing classified info about terrorism and “airline safety” to the Russians?

    ReplyReply

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  67. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    When a publication uses only anonymous sources for a story, they are asking for the trust of the readership that 1) the sources exist; 2) the sources actually said what the publication says they said; and 3) the sources were telling the truth.

    Some people trust the Washington Post. Some people don’t. Cui bono?

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  68. MarkedMan says:

    OK, so all the Trump apologists who were saying they wouldn’t be,ieve it because the sources are anonymous: at 7:03am this morning Trump tweeted that he did it on purpose as part of his strategy.

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  69. MarkedMan says:

    So Trump pressures McMaster to come out and say it didn’t happen, thereby wrecking his credibility. And 12 hours later Trump shows him up as a liar without even a thought. Why do Republicans keep covering for this guy? It will only destroy them when Trump inevitably kicks them to the curb.

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  70. Davebo says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    Well since Trump admitted it’s true in his tweets this morning I guess that question has been answered.

    McMaster sure was thrown under the bus. But no biggie. He’s just the NSA.

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  71. @Hal_10000: Yup, I just posted them, in fact. Amazing.

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  72. Mikey says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: Well, given that Trump himself basically confirmed the story this morning, those of us who trusted the Post have been shown to be wise, while you and the rest of the Trumpist sycophants have been shown to be fools he will throw under the nearest bus the moment it serves whatever jumbled pile of detritus he believes is his purpose at that moment.

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  73. Mikey says:

    @DrDaveT:

    For those of you scoring at home, there are many distinct levels of classified information:

    Strictly speaking, there are only three: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.

    SCI, SAP (some agencies call it CAP, “Controlled Access Program”), “code word,” etc. are not levels of classification, they are access restrictions. For example, a program classified Secret can also be a SAP, and a program classified TS not be SCI, etc. It’s all about who gets to see what.

    With that in mind, I’m quite certain “the Russian ambassador and accompanying state-run media” would not qualify in the context of an Oval Office meeting. There are procedures in place for intel sharing and the President clearly did not adhere to any of them.

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  74. Jen says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Who in that room pulled the alarm bells and who went to the media (and why)?

    It didn’t have to be someone in the room who went to the media. Immediately after the meeting, someone in the room who realized “oh sh!t,” called both CIA and NSA and notified them that the ally’s intelligence info had been leaked. The person who went to the media could have been anyone on the other end of those phone calls who were in the loop.

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  75. DrDaveT says:

    @P:

    Let’s just ask Trump. I’m sure he’ll brag about it within 48 hours.

    P for the win.

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