BREAKING. H. R. McMaster Gives a Presser on the Alleged Trump Security Blunder (VIDEO)

BREAKING. H. R. McMaster Gives a Presser on the Alleged Trump Security Blunder (VIDEO)
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster pauses during a briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. President Donald Trump claimed the authority to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russia, saying in a pair of tweets he has "an absolute right" as president to do so. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Trump’s national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, just finished up a presser on the outrage du jour, the Washington Post story that Donald Trump inappropriately shared highly classified information with Russian Prime Minster Sergey Lavrov.

Personally, I like McMaster and thought he did as well as could be done considering no one in the briefing was predisposed to do anything but scream RUSSIA!!! But I realize I’m going to be in a minority position on RedState in that belief.

These are the highlights.

Unsurprisingly, they dovetail with what NBC was reporting earlier today.

Key points. First, McMaster says he stands by his statement of yesterday which is that the story is false. Unlike some of my colleagues and most of Twitter, I don’t see the ambiguity of his denial. He said, “The story that came out tonight as reported is false.” I don’t know how you can get any clearer than that, it isn’t a denial of details or hedging it is a denial of the story. If the story “as reported” is false then the Washington Post story is false.

The point about leaks being the issue is a critical one, but I’ll hit that in a second.

McMaster said what was shared was appropriate. He also says it was nothing that couldn’t be found in open source reporting.

There have been some comments to the effect that McMaster “didn’t deny” which city the information came from. In fact, he said quite clearly that all the information was available via open source reporting and, therefore, any city Trump might have mentioned has already been mentioned in an unclassified environment.

The statement that is getting the most attention is this:

This is being portrayed as Trump being stupid or something. All it means is that the information Trump had on the subject did not identify sources or methods and, as McMaster said, was available from open source reporting. When I was doing a stint in Army War Plans division, we tried to sanitize information as much as possible. If a quote from TIME or Newsweek was accurate we’d include it in intel summaries rather than codeword information just to make it easier to deal with the security requirements.

Holding that thought, let’s go back to the leaks bit and why they are dangerous and let me draw on my friend Erick Erickson’s piece in The Resurgent (which seems to be down right now) headlined I Know One Of the Sources. In that story, Erick speaks of aids feeling like Trump doesn’t listen to them but he does listen to the press, so they leak these stories to embarrass Trump publicly in order, they hope, to make him change his ways. This is unprofessional, dangerous, sad, and pathetic.

In this case, suppose McMaster is telling the truth–and when the day comes that you take the word of unnamed sources over McMaster we’ve really nothing else to talk about–and Trump did share with the Russians information that was available from open source reporting. And that Trump had been briefed on the information in a sanitized form with sources and methods omitted. Now, thanks to the leak, the Russians know that information was not open source but that we have a highly placed source inside ISIS being run by an allied intelligence service. If you think for a second there is an allied intelligence service in the fight against ISIS that isn’t working hand in glove with the Russians, think again. Over the past eight years, the foreign policy choices made by the Obama administration increased the profile of Russia in the Middle East. The SVR is now working to identify which service is running the asset and they will do that in short order. So the short-sighted decision to show the boss he’s a dumb fu** has now fully compromised not only a source inside ISIS but possibly a sympathetic intelligence officer in a service that might not be 100% friendly to freelancing by its officers. Think Jonathan Pollard for a second. One of the first rules of mitigating the damage caused by compromising classified information is that you dummy up and act like everyone knew that anyway so as to not call attention to the compromise. If the story were true, what the leakers did was indistinguishable from what Trump did with the exception being that the leakers knew they were telling the Russians they’d heard classified information. So any lives that were put in danger were done so by the leakers who let the Russians know the information Trump mentioned was both accurate and very sensitive.

More to the point, this changes nothing. If you believed Trump was an idiot and a Russian tool when you heard this, you still do, and now you believe McMaster is a tool and a liar. And that is just the way it is.

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