Another twist to the story from earlier this week regarding whether President Trump shared classified intelligence with Russian diplomats during a recent meeting. It’s been established that the President can declassify and share intelligence with anyone based on his own purview. However, the concern is whether it was done with disregard to the safety of the source of the intelligence being shared and how that may affect intelligence gathering under the Trump administration moving forward.
Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he can offer proof that President Trump didn’t offer any compromising information during the meeting, because he has a transcript:
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week and that he could prove it.
Speaking at a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Putin quipped that Lavrov had not passed what he said were the non-existent secrets onto him either.
Putin said Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Trump’s meeting with Lavrov over to U.S. lawmakers if that would help reassure them.
I don’t know if this helps or hurts the situation. Does anyone trust Vladimir Putin? You’d also think the United States would also have a transcript of the meeting if Russia does, do these transcripts match?
Aside from the politics and optics of the matter, there is a greater question of whether the media should be publishing these leaks, which arguably harms national security, while simultaneously accusing the Trump administration of harming national security. The original Washington Post story about the Russia-Trump information exchange pointed out that revealing this information might let the Russian’s discover the source of the intel, which could then endanger the lives of agents in the field.
Despite that concern, the New York Times went ahead and revealed the source as being Israeli intelligence:
The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to an episode that has renewed questions about how the White House handles sensitive intelligence.
Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and runs one of the most active espionage networks in the Middle East. Mr. Trump’s boasting about some of Israel’s most sensitive information to the Russians could damage the relationship between the two countries and raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the region.
Well… gee, you say it could damage our relationship with Israel to reveal this information? Yet, you went ahead and revealed this information? If it weren’t for leaks from somewhere within the administration or intelligence community, the Washington Post never would have had a story, and this entire thing would have remained classified during the private meeting between the President and Russian diplomats. Presidents meet foreign diplomats all the time in private and share information, but this one with the Russians fits the “Russia meddled in the election so Trump is paying them back” narrative.
Besides, this story will be probably dead soon since the latest question of whether Trump personally asked Comey to end the Flynn investigation will take center stage. More on that one later.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) says the offer from Putin is absurd:
Sen. Susan Collins: "The idea that we would accept any evidence from President Putin is absurd" https://t.co/md1UAd2ICp
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 17, 2017