posted at 3:01 pm on May 16, 2017 by John Sexton
The NY Times is reporting that the classified information President Trump shared with Russian representatives had been provided to the United States by Israel:
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 the episode…
The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Israel previously had urged the United States to be careful about the handling of the intelligence that Mr. Trump discussed.
Earlier today National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster spoke to reporters and said that President Trump was not aware of the source of the information when he decided, spontaneously, to share it with the Russians during their visit to the Oval Office. I guess the consolation is that Trump wasn’t intentionally sharing information he knew Israel had provided. It may have been sloppy but it wasn’t malicious.
There are two parallel media narratives developing around this story, neither of which seems entirely true. On one hand, you have McMaster saying this disclosure was a nothing-burger with a side of nothing. But don’t forget that the White House immediately contacted the CIA and the NSA to disclose what had happened. Presumably, someone also picked up the phone to call Israel to let them know of a potential problem.
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, told the NY Times, “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump.” So, at least in public, Israel is not expressing outrage or anger about this. That doesn’t mean it isn’t causing them some headaches behind the scenes.
The other narrative, coming from the left, is that this is proof the President is betraying our allies to our enemies. And because that’s now so obvious (to them), some imagine the end of Trump’s presidency is just around the corner:
WHEN TRUMP GOES
SO DOES SESSIONS
AND GORSUCH GETS REMOVED
GARLAND SWORN IN
EVERY EO INVALIDATED
— ROSIE (@Rosie) May 16, 2017
The truth is that this isn’t proof of Trump’s desire to collude with Russia but it was a blunder for another obvious reason: Russia is our #1 geopolitical foe. While I don’t believe Trump shared this information with any malice, it does seem as if he was trying to impress our enemies rather than impress upon them that we’re not happy with their behavior and that we expect it to change. If Trump set the tone of the conversation the right way from the start, this impromptu sharing of intel probably would never have happened.