Trump Is Said to Expose Ally’s Secrets to Russians

In FOREIGN RELATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY -- articles only, New York Times Editorial On
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WASHINGTON — President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, a current and a former American government official said Monday.

The intelligence disclosed by Mr. Trump in a meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, was about an Islamic State plot, according to the officials. A Middle Eastern ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information, which was considered so sensitive that American officials did not share it widely within the United States government or pass it on to other allies.

Mr. Trump’s disclosure does not appear to have been illegal — the president has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it was a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.

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Disclosing Government Secrets

WASHINGTON — The news that President Trump disclosed highly classified information about the Islamic State during a meeting with Russian officials, jeopardizing an ally’s intelligence source, has raised interest in legal issues surrounding disclosures of classified information.

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Trump Defends Sharing ISIS Information With Russia

WASHINGTON — President Trump defended on Tuesday his decision to share sensitive information with senior Russian officials about an Islamic State threat, saying that he had an “absolute right” to do so in the interest of fighting terrorism.

In a series of early-morning posts on Twitter, Mr. Trump did not dispute reports that he might have provided enough details to reveal the source of the information and the manner in which it had been collected. The information about the Islamic State plot came from a Middle Eastern ally and was considered so sensitive that American officials had not shared it widely within their own government or among allies.

“As president,” Mr. Trump wrote, “I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

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McConnell Seeks ‘a Little Less Drama’ From the White House

WASHINGTON — The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has been largely silent on President’s Trump’s increasing troubles concerning Russia, carefully pleaded with the administration to stop impeding the Republican agenda Tuesday morning as Democrats prepared to use their limited powers to pressure the White House to reveal more detail about the president’s meeting with Russian officials.

“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday morning, reflecting an increasingly frustrated Republican majority over the near standstill of any policy agenda in the wake of Mr. Trump’s many contentious statements. As if to emphasize that point, when he took the Senate floor on Tuesday, Mr. McConnell again criticized the health care law.

The inscrutable Mr. McConnell did not go as far as Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who on Tuesday suggested in a statement that the information discussed by Mr. Trump with the Russians may have endangered allies.

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Can He Be Trusted With State Secrets?

So far, Republicans in Congress repeat the mantra we heard during Mr. Trump’s campaign: that he is coachable and will mature in office. Or, maybe his White House will, as Senator Bob Corker put it on Monday night, “bring itself under control and in order. … Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips.”

That’s not going to happen. We are seeing the real Mr. Trump. This same inattention and ignorance, vanity and foolish impulsivity nearly sank his business — until his lenders stepped in before he took them down with him.

So what will Republicans do, as he threatens to do the same to all of us? They might start devising a plan. The downward spiral is accelerating.

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What Trump Threatened in Israel

Mr. Netanyahu’s intelligence chiefs, though, are up in arms. Israel and the United States have been locked in a mutually necessary and beneficial intelligence-sharing relationship for more than 60 years. But what if it’s not so beneficial anymore?

A source in one agency told me on Tuesday evening: “Trump tweeted that he has the right to share intelligence with the Russians, because he’s the president. I’m no expert on American law — that can be looked into by someone else — but to take material that is clearly not America’s and that was conveyed to a limited American group, and only them, is a blatant violation of everything that has ever been agreed to between our two countries and a kick aimed at the sacred confidence upon which our special relationship is founded.”

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