Trump Retweets Classified Information From An Intelligence Leak Regarding North Korea

by Richard Cameron

Donald Trump and his galaxy of defenders have been hammering a consistent narrative about how improper the leaks regarding internal administration matters have been. They have called for an internal investigation to discover who is behind them and to subject them to criminal prosecution.

There is just one flaw in the narrative. Donald Trump himself, really does not believe in it. As additional proof, Trump was on Twitter again this morning, in the midst of his “working vacation”, re-tweeting an article published today on the “Fox and Friends” blog that contained material that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley considers classified information pertinent to national security.

The article, citing unnamed sources within the intelligence community discloses that U.S. spy satellites
“detected the rogue communist regime loading two anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat on the country’s east coast just days ago.”

Haley told reporters in response to the Fox News disclosure, “I can’t talk about anything that’s classified,”  She added, “and if that’s in the newspaper that’s a shame. I have no reason to comment on it.”

It is difficult if not impossible to persuade anyone to take the idea of keeping information confidential seriously when you have a president that has, by his statements and actions, repudiated confidentiality.

During the campaign, Trump encouraged America’s adversary to spy on Hillary Clinton and her campaign and to distribute whatever they discovered for public consumption. He shared classified information with Russian officials, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in a private meeting with them and talked about proprietary matters of national security with foreign leaders within earshot of dinner guests.

 In early February at Mar-Al-Lago,  Trump conducted an impromptu briefing with aides dealing with intel they received regarding a North Korean missile launch. Trump involved Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the briefing and presidential aides used cell phones to illuminate the documents at the dimly lit dining table; phones that conceivably could have been intercepted by state or non-state actors.  CNN reported that:

Even as a flurry of advisers and translators descended upon the table carrying papers and phones for their bosses to consult, dinner itself proceeded apace. Waiters cleared the wedge salads and brought along the main course as Trump and Abe continued consulting with aides.

President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in dinner meeting at Trump's resort Mar-al-Lago in February 2017

That most notable of Trump’s breaches of sensitive material took place on May 9, at a White House meeting with the two aforementioned Russian officials.  Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported at the time that:

The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

The White House official called upon to defend Trump’s actions at that time was National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, who told the media that, “There’s nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people.”  Now McMaster has taken over the role of White House Chief of Staff and is operating under a cloud of suspicion from Trump’s defenders as presiding over a conduit of leaks.

It would seem to anyone thinking objectively that with regard to leaks and inability to conduct presidential business with appropriate circumspection, that the fish is rotting from the head down. Trump’s indiscretion today just provides further evidence

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