Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, then the very next day he met with Russian government officials in the Oval Office. U.S. media outlets were not allowed to cover the event, but the Russian state media was. Whatever you think could have gone wrong during his meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, did.
According to current and former U.S. officials, amateur president Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Lavrov and Kislyak during the meeting. Those disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
According to The Washington Post, officials said the information Trump relayed to the Russians had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement and it’s considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.
The U.S. did not have permission from the partner to share the sensitive material with Russia. According to officials, Trump’s decision to release the information risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.
White House officials scrambled to contain the damage:
After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and National Security Agency.
A U.S. official familiar with the matter said that the material was of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. The official said that Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
During the meeting with Russian officials, Trump reportedly went off script, as he often does. He then began describing details about an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.
The Washington Post reports:
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.
A former senior U.S. official said, “It is all kind of shocking. 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.”
Current and former US intelligence officials have described Kislyak as a top spy and recruiter of spies.
On the campaign trail, Trump said that he could defeat ISIS and would present a plan to do so in 30 days after being sworn in. Are his supporters tired of all this winning yet? Because he just gave highly classified info on ISIS to Russian officials, in a move which sent his own White House scrambling to contain the damage.
This is what happens when you elect an amateur to do the most difficult job in the world.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.