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Trump’s Tweets on Russian Revelations Appear to Confirm Story

Trump TwitterIn the last couple of hours (the first two tweets are time-stamped about 2 hours prior to my writing this, and the third from half an hour ago), the President appears to be essentially confirming the basics of the WaPo story I noted yesterday. The first two tweets are similar in subject matter to what the reports yesterday said was disclosed by Trump to the Russians and the third validates the notion that the sources used by various journalistic outlets are legitimate, insofar as why else complain about leakers?

A reminder, this is what WaPo reported yesterday:

One day after dismissing Comey, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a key figure in earlier Russia controversies — into the Oval Office. It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.

Now, is it possible to discuss that topic without revealing classified info?  Sure.  But in terms of spin control, this is a really weird way to deal with the story.  Also, the reality is that at this point I am far from confident the President knows what he should, and should not, be saying in such a context.

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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. Mikey says:

    Also, the reality is that at this point I am far from confident the President knows what he should, and should not, be saying in such a context.

    I think this incident confirms he has absolutely no idea what he should and should not say, and indeed no idea what the hell he’s doing at all.

    Can we please have a day go by without something coming from this man that makes me say “holy shit, we are so screwed?”

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  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    Republicans 2009-2015: “Obama is too weak to deal with the Russians. Hillary is careless with classified information.”

    Republicans 2016-now: “The President has every right to give the Russians all of our Top Secret files. Executive privilege, comrades!”

    ReplyReply

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  3. Scott says:

    And now McMaster and Tillerson are joining others in this administration under the bus.

    ReplyReply

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  4. Hal_10000 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    TBF: My read of the law is that the President does have that power. This is something Zakaria was getting into the other night: that the President, in some respect, *is* the law. A lot of people are quoting GOPers criticizing Clinton’s handling of classified info but these are not the same thing.
    Lawfare gets into this, from a legal perspective:

    Let’s dispense with one easy rabbit hole that a lot of people are likely to go down this evening: the President did not “leak” classified information in violation of law. He is allowed to do what he did. If anyone other than the President disclosed codeword intelligence to the Russians in such fashion, he’d likely be facing a long prison term. But Nixon’s infamous comment that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal” is actually true about some things. Classified information is one of them. The nature of the system is that the President gets to disclose what he wants.

    That having been said, every other criticism is spot on. Just because it’s legal to do what Trump did does not mean it’s morally right, strategically sound or not batpoop insane. People may die because he wanted to boast to the Russians. And I think his tweets this morning dispense with the idea that this is “fake news”. He did it. He shagged her rotten, baby.

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  5. Scott says:

    A couple of questions for any classification experts:

    Is there a material difference between disclosure of classified and declassification?

    If the info is declassified, can someone now file a FOIA request for that info?

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  6. CSK says:

    The thing about this imbecilic gasbag is that he’s too stupid to appreciate that McMaster pulled his chestnuts out of the fire. Or too desperately needy to demonstrate that HE’S the big man, the one in control. So he has to contradict his cleaning crew, even if he’d be far better off keeping his anus mouth shut.

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  7. CSK says:

    @Scott:

    Except for Ivanka and Jared, everyone will end up under the bus sooner or later.

    ReplyReply

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  8. Argon says:

    Let’s see what the GOP Congressional enablers do…

    So far, McConnell has been the perfect patsy.

    ReplyReply

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  9. Lit3Bolt says:

    With today’s tweets, Trump just became President.

    ReplyReply

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  10. Joe says:

    “Messrs. McMasters and Tillerson, welcome to my world.”

    – Sean Spicer

    So he tapes meetings with his FBI chief, but not with the Russians?

    ReplyReply

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  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    If McMaster had a morsel of the integrity everyone says he does…he would resign immediately.
    It will be interesting to see what Dumb Don’s approval rating does after this latest event gets baked into the numbers.
    The only thing that will ever make McSleazy McConnell do anything is sinking polls.

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  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott:

    Is there a material difference between disclosure of classified and declassification?

    Essentially, yes. A president revealing classified information to an individual, or even several individuals, would legally be the equivalent of reading them into the program in question. It doesn’t constitute declassification. That person just becomes, by definition, authorized to receive the information.

    For example, if the president wants to tell me the launch codes, he can do that. It would be (and in this case was) monumentally stupid, but technically it’s not illegal.

    Despite the revelation, the information remains classified. If I further reveal that information to someone without an clearance, I still go to prison.

    That having been said, impeachment doesn’t technically require a violation of federal statutes. “High crimes and misdemeanors”, in practice, means whatever the House wants for it to mean.

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  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Or too desperately needy to demonstrate that HE’S the big man, the one in control

    That statement, in a nutshell, sums up Donald Trump.

    And it is why the concept of him as president is fundamentally dangerous to the republic.

    ReplyReply

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  14. drj says:

    @Argon:

    Let’s see what the GOP Congressional enablers do…

    A couple will express some measure of concern, most will duck and cover, all will point at Hitlery’s emailz (because both sides do it) in order to move forward with tax cuts for billionaires.

    In fact, that is IMHO by far the bigger story: Republicans are perfectly willing to sell out their country.

    “Which Republicans,” do you ask? At this point, ALL of them.

    ReplyReply

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  15. Pete S says:

    Where are the Trump defenders who last evening were saying that the story cannot be true because it came from anonymous sources? Is Trump lying too in an attempt to incriminate himself?

    ReplyReply

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  16. Jack says:

    Just after the shoot down of Korean airlines flight KAL007, Ronald Reagan exposed classified SIGINT collection of the Soviet command and control as well as pilot intercepts in order to prove the Russians shot down the passenger airliner. He played the actual tapes, we were still using reel-to-reel back then, made by US intelligence assets collected during the shoot down.

    This revealed the capability of US assets to collect, process, and report Soviet C2, radar, and military aviation fully within Soviet airspace in near-real-time. This information was not “leaked”. It was done during a press conference to expose the lies coming out of the USSR concerning the massacre of 269 innocent men, women and children aboard an unarmed Korean passenger plane. The tape was then subsequently played before United Nations Security Council.

    But it too was an “Exposure of an intelligence stream that has provided critical insight…” and “could hinder the United States’ and its allies’ ability to detect future threats.”

    And while the IC was upset due to the revelations, this was TS/SCI or “code-word” information after all, no one was put in “danger” and it rallied the world behind us against an adversary.

    Yet no one claimed Reagan was being

    “very reckless, and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security.

    While Trump may have revealed TS/SCI information to the Russians (there is no code-word information today), it was an effort to expose to them what we know about ISIS and elicit their assistance in destroying a shared enemy.

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  17. Jack says:

    @Scott: Once the original classification authority actually declassifies the data it is subject to FOIA.

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  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    On another note, the parallels between this White House and the Nixonian version just keep expanding. An embattled, unpopular and reactionary president whose chief focus seems to be ferreting out the source of leaks?

    I keep wondering when I’m going to pick up the day’s copy of Le Monde and read about enemies lists and Chuck Colson having risen from the dead. :roll:

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  19. Joe says:

    @Jack:

    Do you really think that Trump deliberated this sharing on anything like the same basis Reagan did?

    Bwahahahaha.

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  20. Jen says:

    @Jack: They covered that on CNN last night. Reagan went to those who provided us the information, notified them that he was releasing the information for strategic purposes, etc.

    He did everything right. He didn’t just let something slip because he wanted to be the big guy in the room.

    Try again.

    Edited to add: The main reason the process Reagan went through (and Trump did not) is so important is that if the release of the intel could put actual people at risk, the notification allows for those affected to protect themselves.

    There is flat-out, no excuse or rationale for what Trump did in the way he did it. NONE. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. He screwed up. Bigly.

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  21. Jack says:

    @Jen: @Joe: I’m sure that Trump discussed this with his National Security Advisor in advance of these discussions.

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  22. Jack says:

    @Jen: I guess he should have just put it on a private server that 5 foreign nations have hacked into.

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  23. Jen says:

    @Jack: That’s a hoot. All evidence points to him having gone off-script and releasing information he shouldn’t have.

    And at any rate, that’s beside the point. If he decided this was a strategic necessity, notification should have been provided to the foreign ally who provided the intel–you know, the one with human assets AT PHYSICAL RISK.

    We’ve just demonstrated that our President cannot be trusted with intelligence information. I wonder how swift the pullback will be? You realize this puts Americans at risk, right?

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  24. Jack says:

    @Jen:

    You realize this puts Americans at risk, right?

    And which Americans are at risk? Please, be specific.

    ReplyReply

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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    Tap a tap a tappity tap

    :-)

    ReplyReply

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  26. Jen says:

    @Jack: Try again. While there was plenty of evidence that foreign countries tried to hack her server, the FBI couldn’t confirm one way or the other if any of the attacks succeeded. (Also, IIRC, the information on her server amounted to the lowest level of classification, not this high-level intel that Trump has handed over unwittingly.)

    At any rate, you’re deflecting. The issue in front of the court, so to speak, is the *sitting president’s* inability to demonstrate even a base level of competence in his job.

    ReplyReply

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  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    It’s best to not even engage him. He’s a lot like his hero Trump – they both live for the attention.

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  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    ORLLY?

    ReplyReply

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  29. Jen says:

    @Jack: Are you really that unimaginative?

    See if you can follow: When those who we rely on to share intelligence with us no longer trust us to keep it close to the vest, they stop sharing. Having less intelligence about *anything*–but, specifically terrorism plots–puts Americans (especially those overseas) at risk.

    I’m not going to argue with you all day. I think you know that this is a mess.

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  30. Mikey says:

    @Jack: Given McMaster is today residing under the bus, I highly doubt Trump discussed anything with him beforehand.

    You and the rest of the Trump apologists are grasping at any straw, however flimsy, to excuse his utterly cavalier disclosure of classified information, entirely outside of any proper procedure, to our chief geopolitical adversary. Why can’t you simply accept the undeniable, demonstrated again and again, fact Trump is dangerously unhinged and utterly incompetent?

    And regardless of the legality of his action, we know our international intelligence sharing partners are this very moment considering how far they will reduce their sharing, if not eliminate it altogether. No excuse you make will reduce the danger inherent in losing those international eyes and ears.

    ReplyReply

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  31. Jack says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Just like Better call Saul…only not as good of a lawyer.

    ReplyReply

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  32. Jack says:

    @Mikey:

    the legality of his action

    That’s all you need to know. Glad to see you comprehend this.

    ReplyReply

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  33. KM says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Essentially, yes. A president revealing classified information to an individual, or even several individuals, would legally be the equivalent of reading them into the program in question. It doesn’t constitute declassification. That person just becomes, by definition, authorized to receive the information.

    Does that mean they are entitled to future info or is it a onetime authorization?

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  34. Mikey says:

    @Jack: Yeah, it was legal, but it was stupid, wrong, and dangerous.

    I guess you’re OK with the last three.

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  35. Jack says:

    @Mikey:

    stupid, wrong, and dangerous

    That’s your opinion…and like assholes………

    ReplyReply

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  36. Catchling says:

    @Jack: aside from Hillary’s server never actually having been hacked, it’s pretty rich to defend someone who directly gave some intel with “At least he didn’t leave it somewhere unsecured! Who knows what could have happened!”

    ReplyReply

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  37. Jack says:

    @Mikey:

    stupid, wrong, and dangerous

    I could say the same about Obamacare.

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  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jack:

    You’re not legitimately this dim.

    Then again, maybe you are …

    It doesn’t matter that the action was legal. Nobody cares that it was legal.

    It further undermines [what little] confidence in his probity & judgment [existed to begin with].

    It’s a tool for the Democrats to use in painting him as incompetent & unsuited to the office, and it’s a rationale for the GOP to use in covering its collective behind if/when they do what they’ve been wanting to do for a while now – rid themselves of this meddlesome priest.

    He doesn’t have to violate a federal statute in order for Congress to remove him from office. You do get that, correct?

    So – he either stays and we get to use him to rip the GOP apart, or he goes and it sets off a civil war in the GOP base. Either way, we win.

    Trump – like Nixon – is his own worst enemy.

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  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @KM:

    Does that mean they are entitled to future info or is it a onetime authorization?

    It’s situational, and doesn’t constitute having been granted a security clearance.

    ReplyReply

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  40. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Dumbass. As soon as the meeting ended, McMaster rushed to the phone to warn CIA and NSA. That fact cannot be reconciled with your pathetic efforts to rationalize.

    ReplyReply

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  41. Jack says:

    @Catchling:

    who directly gave some intel

    Trump did not reveal sources or methods. He revealed knowledge. There is a difference. You know this, right? RIGHT???

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  42. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Ah, the human buttplug has an opinion. Nice to know.

    ReplyReply

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  43. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’ve wondered at the number of people who sit through a negotiation with Trump trying desperately to control their contemptuous eyerolls and snickers. My best guess is the vast majority of them.

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  44. Slugger says:

    Trump meets with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister. No American media is allowed in the room. Four seconds later pix of the meeting are published in Moscow. Something gets discussed at this meeting. An American newspaper reports that secrets were revealed. This is denied by administration spokesman. About twelve hours later, Trump tweets that he did talk to the Russkies about the secret stuff, but it his right to do so, and he has been asking Director Comey to find the leakers.
    Have I got all that right?
    I think that responsible people in the administration should bring in a talented gerontologist to assess his competence. They could have the doctor play a round of golf with the President at Mar a Lago. I am pretty sure that golf-playing gerontologists are available in Florida. Doing this is their simple duty to our country.

    ReplyReply

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  45. Scott says:

    @Jack: Thank you for the straight forward answer.

    ReplyReply

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  46. Eric Florack says:
  47. CSK says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Eric, The Gateway Pundit???? Seriously??? A semi-literate crackpot blog that promotes every paranoid Internet rumor making the rounds?

    Were you on board with them last July when they confidently predicted a mass uprising by black people in every major city U.S. beginning precisely at 7 p.m.? This was absolutely going to happen, you know–based on a two-year-old anonymous email one of their ace reporters received.

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  48. Matthew Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack,

    It seems like other noted conservative pundits have a very different take. From Erick Erickson:
    http://theresurgent.com/i-know-one-of-the-sources/

    > I tend to take these stories about the President with a grain of salt. We have seen key details of a number of salacious stories retracted within 48 hours. The media hates the President so much that they’ll run a negative story about him without very much provocation. Anti-Trump sources embedded within the administration in the career civil service, etc. will leak to the press and confirmation bias sets in.
    >
    > What sets this story apart for me, at least, is that I know one of the sources. And the source is solidly supportive of President Trump, or at least has been and was during Campaign 2016. But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.
    >
    > So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt. Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up. The President cares vastly more about what the press says than what his advisers say. That is a real problem and one his advisers are having to recognize and use, even if it causes messy stories to get outside the White House perimeter.
    >
    > I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.
    >
    > You can call these sources disloyal, traitors, or whatever you want. But please ask yourself a question — if the President, through inexperience and ignorance, is jeopardizing our national security and will not take advice or corrective action, what other means are available to get the President to listen and recognize the error of his ways?
    >
    > This is a real problem and I treat this story very seriously because I know just how credible, competent, and serious — as well as seriously pro-Trump, at least one of the sources is.

    [Erikson’s post is reproduced in full because the site has been throwing 500 errors all morning]

    So whose information is accurate?

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  49. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    I can tell you that he was the source of endless laughter around the firm back when we still did business with him. Sadly, he actually thinks that other people buy into his shtick.

    He’s that guy who – when the door closes behind him – the room erupts into laughter and he doesn’t hear it. Maybe he does and just tries to ignore it – who knows? The guy has the mother of all inferiority complexes.

    Case in point: the maddest that I have ever seen him – we’re talking spittle flying, blood red face and absolute, uncontrolled rage – was during failed negotiations with a certain Wall Street lender from my tribe (full disclosure: I adore the guy – cranky, old and understands what true power is and how to exercise it in a way that only those who possess it truly can) who basically told Trump to go pound sand by saying “you’re just a oysshteler putz from Queens who doesn’t pay his bills. Don’t waste my f**king time”.

    That is the basis of all of his problems. Even in the White House, he is still (and probably always will be) the not good enough kid from Queens.

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  50. al-Alameda says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Not to deflect but, TheGatewayPundit.com = the #FakeStreamMedia

    ReplyReply

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  51. cian says:

    Utterly bizarre take from Jack.

    Reagan exposed classified information after going through all the hoops including contacting allies and partners in order to prove Russia, America’s enemy, was lying to the American People and the world.

    Trump gives up classified intelligence to America’s sworn enemy in order to prove he’s the biggest guy in the room.

    That Jack can’t see a difference here tells you all you need to know about why the country is in the place it is.

    ReplyReply

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  52. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    God, I love that story.

    And to think we’d have been spared all this if he’d been able to buy himself a WASP blueblood bride from Oyster Bay on a mission to replenish the family coffers. But probably no one was either quite that desperate or quite that strong of stomach.

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  53. Deep Throat says:

    @HarvardLaw92:.I keep wondering when I’m going to pick up the day’s copy of Le Monde and read about enemies lists and Chuck Colson having risen from the dead.

    I’m here to help.

    Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward meets with W. Mark Felt,..at an out-of-the-way bar in Maryland. During the meeting, Felt warns Woodward that the FBI is up in arms about finding the source, or sources, of news leaks about Watergate. The Nixon campaign lawsuit and subpoenas to Woodward and other reporters are “only the first step” in an all-out White House campaign against the press in general and the Post in particular. Felt says that Nixon has “told the appropriate people, ‘Go to any length’ to stop them. When he says that, he really means business.”…Felt describes Nixon as “wild” and “shouting” about the idea. “He thinks the press is out to get him and therefore is disloyal; people who talk to the press are even worse—the enemies within, or something like that.” Felt seems surprisingly unconcerned,..“It can’t work. They’ll never get anyone. They never have. They’re hiding things that will come out and even discredit their war against leaks. They can’t stop the real story from coming out. That’s why they’re so desperate.… The flood is coming, I’m telling you.”
    http://www.historycommons.org

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  54. Mikey says:

    @Jack: This is a distinction-without-a-difference claim.

    You know it’s possible to infer sources and methods from information, and that’s why the information is classified at the same level and with the same caveats as the sources and methods, right?

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  55. Jen says:

    Oooh, boy. NYT is reporting that a (or) the source of the intel was the Israelis.

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  56. KM says:

    @Jen:
    Wonder how that’s gonna fly with the Evangelicals. Our support is supposed to be absolute for God’s Holy Land so that He might blah blah rapture blah blah apocalypse. Now here’s the Pres casually giving out secret info that Israel would have shared with Russia if they wanted to. That’s not what support looks like, Trump. Oopies.

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  57. Jen says:

    @KM:

    Now here’s the Pres casually giving out secret info that Israel would have shared with Russia if they wanted to

    .

    It’d be even worse if Russia was allied with Iran…oh, wait…

    Seriously, on quick read, if the intel was from Israel, the Russians, Iranians, and Syrians all now know that the Israelis have an asset or assets in or near to ISIS. That can’t be good.

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  58. wr says:

    @Jack: Shorter Jack: “I’m so stupid I’ll parrot back whatever the president’s handlers crap out to cover him.”

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  59. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    Except for Ivanka and Jared, everyone will end up under the bus sooner or later.

    I’m not sure why you are exempting Ivanka and Jared here. Trump has thrown a number of family members under the bus, once he is tired of them. His two ex-wives. By all appearances, his current wife. Tiffany. His brother (OK, that one might be understandable). His niece.

    Once Trump is tired of someone or finds them no long useful, he’s done with them.

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  60. Moosebreath says:

    @Jen:

    “Oooh, boy. NYT is reporting that a (or) the source of the intel was the Israelis.”

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Trump is in Israel next week, between this and a Trump aide questioning whether the Western Wall (the holiest site in the world for Jews) is part of the West Bank and therefore up for negotiation in any future peace deal:

    “Channel 2 reports, as noted by the Times of Israel, that a Trump aide then angrily told Israelis that the Western Wall was part of the West Bank, which is governed in part by the State of Palestine.

    “What are you talking about? It’s none of your business. It’s not even part of your responsibility. It’s not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank,” said the White House official, according to Channel 2.”

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  61. Monala says:

    @MarkedMan: I suspect he makes an exception for Ivanka. Jared squeaks by only because of Ivanka.

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  62. Mikey says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Trump is in Israel next week

    Maggie Haberman at the NYT is reporting “a half-dozen advisers” have told her Trump is “dreading the overseas trip.”

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  63. al-Alameda says:

    @Jen:

    Oooh, boy. NYT is reporting that a (or) the source of the intel was the Israelis.

    And remember how much Netanyahu hated Obama, and how he considered him to be an unreliable friend and ally of Israel?

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  64. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Well, he won’t be able to sleep in his own beddy-bye.

    Apparently the State Dept. has requested that all speeches be kept to five minutes or less because Trump can’t sit through anything longer.

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  65. Jen says:

    @Mikey:

    Maggie Haberman at the NYT is reporting “a half-dozen advisers” have told her Trump is “dreading the overseas trip.”

    As are many of his advisers, who have legitimate concerns about leaving their boss alone with any world leader because who knows what he might say.

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  66. Janis Gore says:

    I follow Tom Nichols on twitter. He has recently written an article in The Federalist that says that Trumps’s tweets are a goldmine of information for intelligence agencies across the world:

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/05/09/president-trumps-tweets-gold-mine-foreign-intelligence/

    With that kind of information out there, I’d be dreading the trip, too.

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  67. Janis Gore says:

    Oh, well, maybe a trip out of country wouldn’t be so bad after all.

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  68. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Yeah, but is he dreading it for a good reason or simply because it will force him to sleep in unfamiliar rooms for a series of days?

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  69. Pch101 says:

    If Jack was a complete idiot, it would be an improvement.

    I’ve been wrong to say that the GOP has become a club for stupid people. It’s really more like a cult for them.

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  70. teve tory says:

    Jack would need a promotion to be a moron. Heaven only knows why he comes here and embarrasses himself.

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