On Monday, May 15, we learned through the reporters of the Washington Post that Donald Trump shared classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their visit to the Oval Office on May 10, the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey.
On May 16, HR McMaster, National Security Advisor, claimed that what the president did was “wholly appropriate,” saying, “It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people. That’s what he did.”
Unfortunately, there is absolutely no evidence that Trump shared the classified information for the reason that McMaster stated: to advance security of the American people.
According to reporting from the Post, Trump shared the information with his Russian guests to impress them with the quality of the intelligence that the United States receives. According to the Washington Post, In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.” On the basis of this quote, Trump, who cares greatly about people’s view of him — he’s desperate for admiration and respect — was clearly bragging. And that’s all he was doing: bragging, not defending the US national security.
In addition, after Trump shared the information, people from the administration immediately launched into damage control by contacting members of the national security establishment to give them a heads up on what Trump had done. According to the Post, “After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.”
This is not something that happens when the President has done something that is “wholly appropriate,” to use McMaster’s words on Tuesday.
Another important and revealing thing that McMaster said after the Post broke the news was that Trump didn’t share information about “sources and methods” of intelligence gathering. He said that as he tried to provide support for his claim that the Washington Post May 15 reporting was inaccurate. Unfortunately, the Post did not report that Trump had shared information about sources and methods. In fact, the Post reported that Trump had specifically NOT shared information about sources and methods that led to the intelligence.
Again, these quotes from National Security Advisor McMaster lead one to clearly conclude that McMaster was threading a needle and trying to give Trump cover for his dangerously incompetent action.