As the president of the United States finds himself embroiled in yet another scandal, he has resorted to his standard defense – double down, admit nothing, and basically say, “I’m president and I can do what the hell I want.”
In an explosive Washington Post story published on Monday, intelligence sources revealed that President Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak during a meeting at the White House last week – information that was so sensitive that it was not even shared with U.S. allies. Note: This was the meeting that no U.S. press was allowed into. Second note: meeting with Kislyak and not revealing said meetings is the reason Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from any investigations into Russian tampering with the U.S. presidential election.
The Post reports that the information Trump so offhandedly shared was so classified that calls were made to the CIA and National Security Agency immediately after the meeting to do damage control. Specifically, Trump described details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft. He also allegedly mentioned the city where the intelligence was coming from.
Fallout from such offhanded remarks (which many viewed as the President “bragging”) include the possibility that American allies might be discouraged from sharing intelligence with the United States. Also, the Russians may be able to glean the source of the information and the manner in which it had been collected, effectively outing the source.
Early Tuesday morning on Twitter – because his press representatives and surrogates either refuse to comment or issued carefully worded statements that don’t deny the facts of the report – the president said he has an “absolute right” to share information with the 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. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” wrote President Trump in a series of two Tweets.
Also, as has been his MO, the president did not talk about the fact that he leaked information, but the fact that someone in his White House leaked his leakage to the press. “I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community,” he wrote.
Condemnation of the president’s actions on Tuesday evening were swift – coming from both sides of the aisle. Twitter was ablaze with Trump’s own words condemning Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information by using a private email server (Remember “lock her up?”)
However, in the Trump world, the rules for everyone else apparently don’t apply.