Donald Trump spent much of his campaign and the first months of his presidency tweeting about how scandalous it is to mishandle or disclose classified information and national security secrets:
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Before I, or anyone, saw the classified and/or highly confidential hacking intelligence report, it was leaked out to @NBCNews. So serious!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2017
WikiLeaks proves even the Clinton campaign knew Crooked mishandled classified info, but no one gets charged? RIGGED! https://t.co/FgGxDsS0a1— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
Trump’s attacks are remarkable to go back and read after the Washington Post published its bombshell report on Monday claiming the president revealed highly classified information to Russian officials, some of which may have “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence” on the Islamic State. (The White House has denied the Post’s reporting, though the New York Times has now confirmed it.)
During the campaign, Trump and other conservative critics claimed that Clinton’s use of an unsecured email server made classified information more vulnerable to foreign hacks than it would have been on a government-managed server. No proof ever emerged of a successful hostile foreign breach of her account, then-FBI Director James Comey said at the time.
“Hillary’s corrupt criminal scheme put the safety of every American family in danger, that’s what’s happened,” Trump said campaigning in New Hampshire this November.
After the campaign, he continued to rail about leaks, including leaks of classified information, as damaging stories about his administration piled up:
Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
But according to the Post, Trump didn’t just inadvertently make a breach by a hostile foreign government or a leak of classified information more likely. Trump himself chose to voluntarily give away vital state secrets, either accidentally or on purpose. It’s as if Clinton set up an unsecured email server ... and then used it to send classified information directly to foreign hackers from her personal account.
Vox’s Zack Beauchamp spells out what Trump appears to have given away to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, based on the Post’s reporting:
- The information Trump revealed to Lavrov concerned information about an ISIS plot to bomb airplanes using laptops.
- Revealing it “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State,” according to the Post — specifically by giving the Russians enough information about the nature of the source to easily identify who or what it is.
- That intelligence came from “espionage capabilities of a key partner,” per the Post’s Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller. It was so sensitive that it wasn’t being shared with other allies, though we’re not sure which one it is.
At least we know exactly what Trump thinks the disclosure of classified information means for the fitness of a president of the United States:
Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team "were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." Not fit!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2016