The Implications of Trump’s Choice to Share Classified Information with Russia

It’s been an interesting couple of news days indeed.

Now, we already knew last week that President Trump inexplicably chose to meet as scheduled with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak– yes, the same Kislyak that Flynn and Sessions met with during the campaign– the day after he fired James Comey, the man in charge of investigating his connections to Russia. We also already knew that while American press were barred from the meeting, Russian press were allowed to attend.

Now, per the Washington Post, we know that during this already questionable meeting, President Trump revealed highly classified–code-word–intelligence to Lavrov and Kislyak. This intelligence came from a Middle-Eastern ally (presumably Israel) on the condition that it not be shared with anyone, including our closest allies. It goes without saying that Russia is not on that list. First and foremost then, one has to wonder what the likelihood of this ally continuing to share sensitive information with the United States following this decision. Chances are, those odds are fairly low. Moving on to broader implications, the intelligence discussed involved sensitive plans of the Islamic State, which operates heavily in Syria. Russia’s strong support of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is well documented, so it seems fair to assume that he has been made aware of this intelligence as well. Only a few weeks ago, Trump decried Assad’s human rights violations to the point of justifying the use of fifty tomahawk missiles on a Syrian air base– and now Trump shares intelligence that will presumably help Assad with people who have publicly supported his regime. It is hard not to aggressively question the sanity of this choice. (It is also difficult not to point out the hypocrisy of Trump mishandling classified information after his…enthusiastic… rhetoric on the subject throughout his campaign but that extends beyond the breadth of news.)

Now, I would be remiss not to say that the President has the right to share secrets. That is a right and a duty of the executive branch, and therefore there is no illegality here. However, we as a people need to begin to recognize that something being legal does not make it right. Whatever this intelligence is– and I give immense credit to the Washington Post for choosing not to share it in spite of having access to it– it was sensitive enough to be restricted even from many members of United States intelligence agencies. It has not been offered to the United Kingdom, Germany, or other key allies. It may well be above the classification level of the legislature. Why, then, would Trump share it with the country he is being investigated for colluding with to steal an election, and simultaneously a country with which he recently stated diplomatic relations were at an all-time low? This choice is not impeachable by any means, but the motivations behind it may well be. It is certainly difficult to think of justification that does not involve the words “collusion,” “coercion,” or “Russian puppet.” (Okay, the last one is a joke…sort of.)

It certainly is an interesting time folks. Stay tuned.

— This is the ALF, signing off.

 

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