The Five Smartest Reactions to the WaPo "Trump Leaked Classified Intel" Bomb

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster walks back to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 15, 2017, after speaking to the media. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster walks back to the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 15, 2017, after speaking to the media. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Conventional internet wisdom is that everyone has a hot take on every Trump story. It is, of course, a generalization. Usually. But I believe it is possible that literally everyone everywhere forever had a hot take last night and this morning on the story from the Washington Post about an alleged dangerous exposure of classified information to the Russians. Like, everyone. And their pets. It’s a big story.

The Washington Post is under scrutiny now, and should be. This is the kind of bombshell you better be able to back up, and their track record is (generously) spotty. In equal measure lacking credibility is President Trump, the pattern liar.

And you have carefully worded denials from Tillerson and McMaster. In other words, it’s a cluster. It would not be the first time the media got ahead of their story and had to walk it back. It would also not be the first time that the Trump administration’s position/denials “evolved” as evidence mounted. We’ll find out, I guess.

There, see? Everyone has a hot take, including me. But some are better than others. The best are here at RedState, of course. Just click over to the front page. But below, well these are the five non-RedState takes that are absolute must-reads. In no particular order …

1) Jonah Goldberg, National Review


No, I don’t think for a moment that Trump deliberately divulged to the Russians classified information at an event covered by Russian media (but not American media) the day after he fired the FBI director for not doing more to end the investigation of his campaign’s alleged involvement with the Russians. That’s “resistance” paranoia stuff. But the idea that Trump — with his irrepressible need to boast to the point of narcissistic incontinence combined with his lackadaisical approach to the nuts-and-bolts demands of the job — somehow just let something slip is utterly and completely believable. It was apparently believable to various members of his own administration. What’s harder to believe, however, is the idea that H. R. McMaster lied tonight.

Read the rest: Trust But Verify

2) John Podhoretz, Commentary

There are other reasons for everyone, including Trump supporters, to be furious as well, even if what might have happened here does not trigger so breathtaking a consequence. For example: If it becomes an accepted fact that the president revealed code-word intelligence at the highest level to an American antagonist, how on earth is any federal prosecutor going to be able to build a leak case against a lower-level official on the grounds that such an official mishandled classified information? Defense attorneys will be able to raise the case of the commander-in-chief himself revealing such information and raise substantive questions about due process and equal treatment.

Here’s another: The Senate is in the process or is supposed to be in the process of debating the health-care bill. Procedurally, because Republicans can only pass the bill under the “reconciliation” process, it must get through the Senate and be harmonized with the House bill by mid-June if it is to proceed. Only if the health-care bill passes can Trump’s tax-cut package come under consideration, because he needs the budgetary savings provided by the health-care bill to fund the tax cuts by the fall.

Who now thinks the Senate is going to be able to keep its eyes on the prize, buckle down, and pass the health-care bill? Anybody? Bueller?


Read the rest: Trump’s Supposed Leak: The Worst Thing Yet?

3. Tom Nichols on Twitter:

And this summary, after trolling.

4. Ben Shapiro, On Twitter.

Shapiro’s Twitter feed is chock full of good tweets, retweets, and a variety of points of view. But I narrowed it down to this one.

Use. Your sense.

5) Eleventy co-authors, Lawfare


First, this is not a question of “leaking classified information” or breaking a criminal law. Let’s dispense with one easy rabbit hole that a lot of people are likely to go down this evening: the President did not “leak” classified information in violation of law. He is allowed to do what he did. If anyone other than the President disclosed codeword intelligence to the Russians in such fashion, he’d likely be facing a long prison term. But Nixon’s infamous comment that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal” is actually true about some things. Classified information is one of them. The nature of the system is that the President gets to disclose what he wants.


Also this excerpt:

Second, this is not a garden variety breach, and outrage over it is not partisan hypocrisy about protecting classified information.

There is a semi-regular partisan food fight over the other party’s handling of classified information. There are too many examples of hypocrisy and faux-outrage on both sides to count. So Republicans can point to any number of statements by Democrats minimizing the significance or severity of disclosing classified information; Democrats, meanwhile can do the same with Republican statements underscoring the importance of protecting classified information.

This debate, which we assume to be inevitable, is a distraction and should be ignored.

The information allegedly disclosed here appears to be of an extremely sensitive nature. According to the Post, President Trump’s own aides “appeared to recognize immediately that Trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential fallout” by contacting the directors of CIA and NSA. The Post does not report whether the White House also notified the foreign ally who provided the information of the compromise.

And finally this excerpt:

Eighth, this episode raises the stakes on the nomination of the FBI Director to replace Comey.  Ben and Jack explained this morning why Trump must not appoint a political figure for the job, but rather must replace Comey with someone apolitical with law enforcement expertise and a reputation for independence. One reason for the conclusion, but only one, was the need for absolute vigilance, and the appearance of vigilance, in the investigation of the DNC hack and the Trump campaign and administration.


There are nine total points, and it’s worth reading every one.

Those are the must-reads BESIDES the RedState must-reads. But never to leave the audience wanting, here’s a runner-up tweet from the indispensable Garry Kasparov:

Today will see many more additions to the must-reads. There are angles galore, and nothing is proven. It’s all a what-if at the moment. In the meantime, it’s always important, as Dan Spencer reminds us, to remember the source.


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