by WorldTribune Staff, May 16, 2017
Despite admitting that it is unlikely laws were broken, or that any information was revealed that was not already known, The Washington Post and major D.C. media have gone full-throttle with multiple identical reports that President Donald Trump shared classified information with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador.
“As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law,” the Post said in its May 15 report.
Apparently unable to resist the opportunity to again advance the discredited Trump-Russia narrative, current and former officials told the Post that, during a meeting at the White House last week, Trump shared information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that was obtained by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing agreement.
The current and former officials told the Post that Trump discussed an Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft. The information that had been alluded to in recent news reports was said to be so sensitive it was withheld from U.S. allies and restricted within the U.S. government.
The Washington echo chamber (made famous by conservative talk show hosts who often record audio collages of endlessly-repeated identical talking points by well known talking heads) took it from there:
- From BuzzFeed, quoting a U.S. official: “It’s far worse than what has already been reported.”
- From Politico on “Trump’s Trust Problem”: ” ‘Their credibility is completely shattered. They’ve engaged in serial lying to the American people on issues big and small. It’s unprecedented for an administration, from the top on down, to embrace a strategy of deception and lying,’ said Steve Schmidt, a Republican consultant and former campaign manager for John McCain. ‘Even people who have built up reputations for integrity over a lifetime of public service, they risk squandering it in this administration,’ ” Schmidt said.
- From Politico’s Playbook: “‘It never stops,’ one White House official said via text message Monday night. ‘Basically chaos at all times.’
While the media was running with it, national security adviser H.R. McMaster stepped in to say that “at no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”
McMaster later told reporters at the White House: “Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. I was in the room, it didn’t happen.”
“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” added Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, who also attended the meeting.
The officials told the Post that Trump “did not reveal the specific intelligence gathering method, but described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances.”
The Post report said that “most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.”
The officials then leaked the name of the city to the Post, which decided to withhold most of the plot details under what it said was the urging of current officials.
The officials said the name of the city would be useful for Russia to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved.
The Post said the officials declined to identify the ally that collected the information, but said, “It is one that has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.”
The officials claimed Trump described measures the U.S. has taken or is contemplating to counter the threat, “including military operations in Iraq and Syria as well as other steps to tighten security,” but did not say what those were.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that was false: “During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism. During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”