Trump Gave Secret Information to Russians

Left to right: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Trump, Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak

Left to right: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Trump, Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak

According to former and current U.S. officials, President Trump disclosed highly classified information to a Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to U.S. during a meeting with the Russian dignitaries in the Oval Office.  The information is so sensitive that details have not been shared with allies and have been restricted within the U.S. government. It is described as “code-word” information, referring to the highest classification level that American information (spy) agencies use.

Immediately after the meeting, White House officials tried to minimize the damage by alerting the CIA and the National Security Agency. They hoped to prevent hostility from the source.

At one point during the meeting, Trump seemed to be bragging, saying, “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.” He then described details about how ISIS plans to use laptop computers as bombs on planes, and although he did not share the specific intelligence gathering method, he did indicate the city within ISIS territory where the information was obtained. Additional information about the content of the President’s disclosure is not being published for reasons of national security.

The incident gave officials several reasons for concern. First, Trump discussed parts of the plan that were known to the U.S only because of the efforts of a key U.S. intelligence partner; by sharing the information, Trump placed the provider of that information in danger since Russia may be able to figure out the source.

A second concern is that exposure of this important source of information about the Islamic State could become an obstacle to the ability of the U.S. and U.S.  allies to find out about future threats. There is also concern that the President compromised national security by reducing the likelihood that U.S. allies will share intelligence with Washington.

Another concern is that the incident may erode the trust essential for sharing information. Rules of espionage hold that governments and individual agencies decide how and to whom information they gather is distributed, even after it is shared. Trump violated this rule: The information was not his to share.

Since one of the powers of the President is to declassify information at any time he chooses, the President did not break any laws and so it is not likely that he will be legally prosecuted for this extremely serious breach of protocol.



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