President Donald Trump is under fire following an explosive story in the Washington Post claiming that he shared classified information with Russian foreign minister and ambassador Sergei Lavrov when the two met on May 10th.According to their report:
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.
For almost 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. White House officials involved in the meeting said Trump discussed only shared concerns about terrorism.
“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who participated in the meeting. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.” McMaster reiterated his statement in a subsequent appearance at the White House on Monday and described the Washington Post story as “false,” but did not take any questions.McMaster also invoked the Hillary defense, and stated that Trump was unaware the information was classified.
Meanwhile, Russia also denies the report that Trump shared any classified information with their officials.
Trump immediately pushed back at the story, stating that he had the “absolute right” to share the information that he did, and that he engaged in the discussion for “humanitarian reasons.”
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….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
Trump does have the legal power to declassify information as President, so he didn’t do anything illegal, but that’s not really the point when it comes to his critics. The cause for concern is that the reported disclosures to the Russians could jeopardize that particular intelligence-sharing operation.
Among those blasting Trump is former CIA Director Leon Panetta, who appeared on CNN today saying, “Trump “cannot just say whatever the hell he wants and expect it doesn’t carry consequences.”
And as Breitbart’s Joel Pollak:
Panetta should know, because it was his loose talk after the Osama bin Laden raid that exposed a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who helped locate the Al Qaeda leader. As a result, Afridi was imprisoned on fabricated charges and will live under fear of assassination for the rest of his life.
As Breitbart News noted in 2013, a Pakistani report on Dr. Afridi reportedly concluded “Dr. Afridi was implicated by a ‘statement by the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was the CIA Director when May 2 happened, confirming the role of Dr. Afridi in making the U.S. assassination mission a success.”
Panetta did not reveal that critical intelligence in a private meeting with a foreign emissary, but to the entire world, on CBS News’ 60 Minutes. Even worse was the Obama White House’s decision to reveal that it was U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 that carried out the bin Laden raid.
However, it’s great to finally see everyone concerned about classified information being shared — this time being a first for the Democrats. A President Hillary would’ve already done so a hundred times over.