The New York Times is reporting that President Trump revealed classified information provided by Israel regarding ISIS to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during their visit to the White House last week.
If The Times report is true, this could have serious implications to national security and even international relationships.
It is unclear at this time exactly what information Trump revealed to the Russians, however.
One claim made by The Times’ report alleges Trump revealed the city where allied spies infiltrated, cultivated a network of intelligence gathering and collected information which prevented attacks on civil aviation.
Compounding Trump’s troubles are statements made by officials within the Trump administration which seem to contradict the president’s statements on the issue.
The National Security Advisor, the Deputy National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State initially denied the claims Trump revealed any classified information and later flipped their rhetoric when Trump tweeted he did reveal some information to Russia in order to aid the fight against ISIS.
While the president is correct that what he revealed was not illegal, the president can choose to declassify any information at any time, there’s no denying what he did was reckless and could have far-reaching consequences.
By revealing in which city this intelligence was gathered, Trump revealed which city has a network of spies that have infiltrated adversarial and terrorist groups. By revealing their location, Trump endangers the network of intelligence gatherers and puts their lives at risk.
Russia is a key ally to Syria, where many of these terrorist networks are rooted. By revealing this information to Russia, Trump put intelligence assets at risk of retaliatory measures from Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
This not only compromises our security assets but those of our allies as well.
Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East. Without their support and collaboration we cannot hope to win the fight against terror. But if Israel feels they cannot trust the President of the United States with sensitive information, it could jeopardize our relationship – just as it was strained during the Obama administration.
Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., reaffirmed the relationship between the U.S. and Israel by issuing the following statement yesterday.
“Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer told The Times.
And the concern is that Israel won’t be the only one to cease sharing or limiting intelligence shared with us.
If countries around the world do not feel confident our president or government officials can properly handle information, they could cease to share or limit the intelligence shared.
While many opponents of Trump are using this to paint him as colluding with Russia, I believe it demonstrates Trump is simply politically incompetent and didn’t understand the implications of his actions.
While I don’t think this excuses his actions, it absolves him of any nefarious intent.
But this has been my complaint about Trump from the very beginning.
I did not think he demonstrated the political savvy I wanted in a president – not just in his attitude and behavior, which is severely lacking in presidential quality – but also in his understanding of the political process.
Trump is a very proud man and has little self-control with regards to his opinions and Twitter account. He frequently spouts off the first thought that comes into his head with little regard for the consequences. Couple this with the fact he has little understanding of diplomacy or political processes and we have the potential for very dangerous situations.
Trump should stay quiet on issues he doesn’t fully understand and allow the subject matter experts in his administration to take the lead on these matters.