The president revealed highly classified (code word) information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an Oval Office meeting last week, potentially endangering a coveted intelligence asset, compromising a crucial alliance and undermining the war effort against the Islamic State.
After The Post broke the story, senior White House aides quickly denied it. “I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” said national security adviser H.R. McMaster. “This story is false,” added Dina Powell, his deputy.
Then, on Twitter this morning, Trump essentially acknowledged that The Post’s reporting is accurate, defended his decision to share the information and complained about the leak that allowed what he’d done to get out:
If you missed their scoop, Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe explain why what Trump did is so problematic: “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. 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. ... Exposure of an intelligence stream that has provided critical insight into the Islamic State, officials said, could hinder the United States’ and its allies’ ability to detect future threats. … The identification of the location [where the intelligence was gathered] was seen as particularly problematic … because Russia could use that detail to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved.
Another part of the problem is that he is unwilling to prepare. From The Post’s Russia scoop last night: “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.”
But the biggest issue stems from the president’s compulsive need to impress people by showing off what he knows. In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump went off script and began to boast about his inside knowledge of a looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, an official with knowledge of the exchange told The Post.