May 15 2017
06:21 pm

Washington Post news piece headline (5:01 pm): Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

Washington Post opinion piece headline (5:45 pm): Bombshell: Trump tells secrets to Russia

Lede, news piece:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

Pithy excerpt, opinion piece:

Trump critic and former State Department official Eliot A. Cohen tells me, “For anyone else, if accidental it would be a firing offense. If deliberate, it would be treason.”

jbr's picture

Presidential Succession

Going down the list of succession, I cannot think of anyone in that line I would want to be president. That is a pretty depressing list of prospects.

At what point in the succession sequence does Knoxville Mayor become president?

If the vice president cannot serve, the line of succession falls to the speaker of the House, then to the Senate president pro tempore, then to Cabinet members.

The Cabinet line of succession is:
1. Secretary of State
2. Secretary of the Treasury
3. Secretary of Defense
4. Attorney General
5. Secretary of the Interior
6. Secretary of Agriculture
7. Secretary of Commerce
8. Secretary of Labor
9. Secretary of Health and Human Services
10. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
11. Secretary of Transportation
12. Secretary of Energy
13. Secretary of Education
14. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
15. Secretary of Homeland Security

Succession: Presidential and Vice Presidential Fast Facts

Andy Axel's picture


President Orrin Hatch.

Average Guy's picture

If things play out like it's looking,

you're right.

R. Neal's picture

Trump defense appears to be

Trump defense appears to be that he can declassify anything anytime in the moment.

So, I guess now they have to disclose, since it was apparently declassified in the moment, all the capabilities, methods, assets, etc. involved, plus what intelligence they gathered.


Tamara Shepherd's picture


Why were members of Russia's state-run news agency present at the meeting, while members of the U. S. press were barred admittance? I had not realized that at the time of the meeting.

I guess we need to be thankful for a leak after the fact, but I'd much prefer to hear from a room full of journalists who'd been present--and hear sooner than this.

mjw's picture

They got played

The White House has an official photographer who is usually in the room for these sorts of meetings until or unless classified or otherwise sensitive information is expected to be discussed. The Russians told the White House that the TASS photographer was their official photographer, so the dumbasses said "Sure, come on in!"

I actually believe this story because these people are dumbasses.

bizgrrl's picture

Wow! What a story. Jbr's

Wow! What a story. Jbr's comment is so true, though

R. Neal's picture

Even Corker is

Even Corker is concerned...


Tamara Shepherd's picture


Also from your link:

Corker told other news outlets the White House is "in a downward spiral right now" and needs to get things "under control."

I'm hearing this quote from Corker repeated over and over on the cable news shows tonight.

And about McMaster's rebuttal here:

"The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false," (national security advisor H. R.) McMaster said. "At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known."

News anchors are characterizing McMaster's response as "carefully worded," since media are not alleging any of the breaches McMaster itemizes among all those things he says didn't happen.

What media are alleging is that Trump offered so much detail concerning the source of his info (including the name of the town in which the intel originated), his Russian guests could undoubtedly figure out who our allied source is. They're also pointing out that Putin was an officer for Russia's KGB for decades, for Pete's sake. And finally, they're pointing out that protocol requires the U.S. to obtain the permission of the intel source before sharing the information with any additional party(-ies).

As to the president's ability to declassify previously classified information, news anchors are explaining that there's a process for doing that and that the process involves the agreement of other security heads. It's not like the president is supposed to make a decision of that sort without consulting his security advisors and/or in mid-sentence while conversing with a foreign adversary.

Average Guy's picture

This is going to end badly,

This is going to end badly, bigly.

I know whack-a-mole with Trump's Trumpisms is hard to resist, but I'm little surprised the focus seems to have left obstruction of justice, seeing as how it can't be parsed or spun.

As for the next President, my money is on Ryan. Pence would have plenty of video evidence making the case he regularly had no idea what Trump was doing, but he ain't coming out of this like a boy scout.

Average Guy's picture

So, not Ryan

cafkia's picture

POTUS does indeed have the

POTUS does indeed have the authority to declassify information or to grant clearance to individuals on an ad hoc basis. But that is true only for U.S. owned or originated information. In this case, the intel came from someone else and Cheeto Benito's leaking of it may well have violated a treaty.

At best our allies will avoid sharing sensitive information with us. At worst, he is getting someone killed and eliminating a source of valuable intelligence.

bizgrrl's picture

Trump tweets defense of

Trump tweets defense of sharing intelligence with Russians.

“As President 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 airline flight safety,” the president tweeted. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Tamara Shepherd's picture


From your link:

...which I have the absolute right to do...

Did he obtain that "right" from the ally to have shared the intel? Media are telling us he did not.

Also from your link:

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., offered a different explanation for Trump’s behavior.

“I believe that the president is desperate for attention and needs psychological help,” Wilson told CBS Miami.

This. The report is that he was bragging to his Russian guests "I get great intel, I get great intel (twice)," as if to emphasize his own relative importance in the intelligence community. I think most people are reading the repeated comment that way--and cringing.

(The man can't communicate anything without using the words "I," "my," or "me." It's notable in his every speech. Even his speech to the families of fallen law enforcement was laden with that yesterday and--on an occasion meant for them, not him--it was hugely inappropriate.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Excuse another quick aside as to how Trump seems to make every issue, every occasion about himself. Here's some text I found odd from his comments to families of those fallen law officers yesterday:

As I look out today at this amazing assembly of police, detectives, marshals and sheriffs, I want to make all of you remember and heed this promise: I will always support the incredible men and women of law enforcement as much as you have always supported me. And you did, big league.

Dunno your gut reaction to that, but to me it seemed he was offering his support of law enforcement only as part of some reciprocal understanding he had with officers as to how they did/would vote? He urged attendees to "heed" this promise? Anyway, it made me cringe...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Another aside (for another day)

Just as Trump made yesterday's speech to the families of fallen law officers all about himself (see link above), he made today's speech to Coast Guard grads all about himself, too.

Per Salon, Trump’s Coast Guard commencement speech: “No politician in history” has been treated so “unfairly”

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