After The Washington Post reported President Donald Trump “revealed highly classified information” to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador, Fox News hosts and pundits immediately went into damage control for the White House.
Trump Shared “Highly Classified Information” With Russia Given By Partner Country That “Had Not Given The United States Permission To Share” It
Washington Post: “Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information To Russian Foreign Minister And Ambassador.” On May 15, The Washington Post reported “President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting,” citing “current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.” The Post additionally reported the intelligence was gathered by a “partner” nation that “had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia”:
President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.
The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. 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 code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” [The Washington Post, 5/15/17]
Fox News Rushed To Defend Trump: “It’s Not Like He Did Something That Was Illegal”
James Rosen: “The President, By Definition, Decides What’s Classified And What’s Declassified, Correct?” “I Mean, He Has That Authority.” On the May 15 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, guest host James Rosen responded to the Washington Post’s reporting by asking John Roberts if “the president, by definition, decides what’s classified and what’s declassified, correct?,” adding, “I mean, he has that authority”:
JAMES ROSEN (GUEST HOST): Back to this new Washington Post story alleging that the president may have disclosed classified information to the Russians that some in the intelligence community think would have been inadvisable for him to have conveyed to the Russians. The president, by definition, decides what's classified and what's declassified, correct, John? I mean, he has that authority.
JOHN ROBERTS: He has ultimate authority over declassification. The problem with this, James, is that this intelligence document was developed and in fact probably owned by one of our partners. And we don't know which partner this was, we have a number of them around the world, judging by the location of the intelligence it’s probably pretty safe to say that this was a partner that either had some rich assets in the Middle East or was actually in the Middle East itself. So, he was not given permission by this partner to divulge this to the Russians, and from what I'm reading, this partner probably would likely be somewhat unhappy that this information was disclosed to the Russians. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/15/17]
Brit Hume: “I Think It’s Very Well Worth Waiting And Seeing On This One.” On a May 15 episode of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Brit Hume reacted to the Washington Post’s story by saying, “There may be something to it, but remember, it is based entirely on anonymous sources.” Hume continued, adding “they aren’t our sources and methods anyway,” and, “I think it’s very well worth waiting and seeing on this” story:
JAMES ROSEN (GUEST HOST): Your instant reaction to this supposed Washington Post bombshell?
BRIT HUME: Well, it’s interesting, James. It’s an interesting story, there may be something to it, but remember, it is based entirely on anonymous sources. It is clear that something was said to the Russians from the White House’s reaction so far, that conceivably could have tipped the Russians off as to where we got this information, which may have offended our intelligence partner but by no means means that sensitive sources and methods have been disclosed here, and they aren't our sources and methods anyway except for the fact that this is one of our partners.
So, how big a story this will turn out to be I think remains to be seen. We’ll need to know more about the nature of the intelligence itself, we’ll need to know what country it is and so on. So, I think it's very well worth waiting and seeing on this one in particular. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/15/17]
Charles Krauthammer: “The Only Implication Here Is That [Trump] Is Unschooled, This Is His First Go-Round With Sensitive Information.” On a May 15 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer said: “The only implication here is that [Trump] is unschooled, this is his first go-round with sensitive information and he might’ve slipped up.” Krauthammer continued, adding, “If it’s not deliberate, it’s not exactly a high crime and misdemeanor”:
JAMES ROSEN (GUEST HOST): There’s no indication in the Washington Post article that in the Kremlin, high fives were being exchanged over this. Isn’t it possible, or at least conceivable that the publication of this article could do a lot more to enhance the Russians understanding of this breach than they enjoyed up until now?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I can't imagine that the Russians have to consult the Post in order to evaluate how important the information is that they have gotten.
The president has the right to declassify anything anytime he wants. It’s not a question of did he act illegally, is it --was it unwisely. And Juan, of all the probabilities, they idea that he was acting as a Manchurian candidate, feeding information to his Russian operatives and controllers is ridiculous. The only implication here is that he is unschooled, this is his first go-round with sensitive information and he might've slipped up. If he did, it's not good. On the other hand, if it's not deliberate, it's not exactly a high crime and misdemeanor. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/15/17]
Laura Ingraham Criticized Washington Post For Not Including Quotes From “McMaster, Dina Powell And Tillerson” In Report. On the May 15 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Laura Ingraham claimed The Washington Post did not ask “McMaster, Dina Powell, and Tillerson” for comment before publishing its article, and asked, “How do you go on the record with this piece without talking to the principals who were at the meeting about the specific allegations?”:
LAURA INGRAHAM: So far we know that Dina Powell and Rex Tillerson have both said no classified information was revealed. There were only three people at the meeting from the administration, other than the President, McMaster, Dina Powell, and Tillerson, and my sources are telling me The Washington Post discussed this before they printed this with none of the principals who were at the meeting. They did not speak to Tillerson, they did not speak to Powell, and they did not speak to McMaster about the specific allegations that they were raising.
JAMES ROSEN (GUEST HOST): Their responsibility is --
INGRAHAM: And if that’s -- and if that’s the case, that’s -- that’s what we’re hearing at Lifezette, and if that’s the case, how do you go on the record with this piece without talking to the principals who were at the meeting about the specific allegations?
ROSEN: The responsibility of The Washington Post, it seems to me, in an incident like this is to reach out to the administration and to its press operation --
ROSEN: And to get whatever answer that they are prepared to give to you. It doesn't mean it invalidates the reporting if you didn’t speak to the principals, it would -- obviously it’s better to speak to the principals. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 5/15/17]
Chris Stirewalt: “It’s Not Like There Is A Crime Here, It’s Not Like He Did Something That Was Illegal.” On the May 15 edition of Fox News’ The Story, Chris Stirewalt reacted to the Washington Post’s reporting by stating, “The president can declassify anything he wants to declassify. He is the ultimate authority, so it’s not like there is a crime here, it’s not like he did something that was illegal”:
CHRIS STIREWALT: Remember, the president can declassify anything he wants to declassify. He is the ultimate authority, so it’s not like there is a crime here, it’s not like he did something that was illegal, but remember he did this -- let’s think about the context. He did this in a meeting with the very -- this was the day after he canned Comey, under huge turmoil, all this tumult surrounding what’s going on with the Russians.
He -- they did not allow US press in, they did not allow Americans to come in, but they let a reporter from what is basically one of the Kremlin outlets, to come in there, photograph, and -- the pictures that we have came from basically a Kremlin outlet. And all of the handling of that then leads to this, and this is how it happens when you are snake bit and you can't seem to catch a break, the small or smaller mistakes that you made in the past, there is this spiral -- there is this pebble, turns into a rock that hits a boulder that starts rolling downhill. [Fox News, The Story, 5/15/17]
Tucker Carlson: “It’s Almost Like There’s People In Washington Who Like To Undermine The Relationship Between The U.S. And Russia.” On the May 15 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson bemoaned “the mass hysteria around the question of Russia,” saying “true or not,” The Washington Post’s report “is roiling Washington.” Carlson additionally declared, “It’s almost like there’s people in Washington who like to undermine the relationship between the U.S. and Russia”:
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): In a minute, we are going to take a moment to discuss the mass hysteria around the question of Russia, and its effect on this country, none of it good. But first, a new report from The Washington Post claims that President Trump may have compromised an intelligence source on the Islamic State. The news is roiling Washington, true or not.
CARLSON: It's almost like there’s people in Washington who like to undermine the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Well, back to the question of hysteria tonight. His critics in the media often say that Donald Trump is diminishing the American presidency and at times there is some truth in that. But it is also true that in covering Trump the way that they have, many journalists have degraded and humiliated themselves. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 5/15/17]