"Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team ‘were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’ Not fit!" Trump tweeted in 2016.
The Pot that called the Kettle black had to have been a Republican. According to Politico, White House staff members had hoped for a quiet week after last one, which even octagenarian journalist Dan Rather characterized as the worst week in memory. No such luck, apparently.
As Trump eyes a reorganization of his senior staff and blames a range of misfires on former President Barack Obama, warring White House aides, an ineffective communications shop, the "failing" news media, members of Congress and others, the latest episodes reveal what senior aides and advisers privately say: The problems often come from the top.
"It never stops," one White House official said via text message Monday night. "Basically chaos at all times."
And to make things worse, even the intelligence community agrees. Particularly the intelligence community agrees.
"This is really the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community," Ned Price, a former CIA officer and member of the National Security Council staff under former President Barack Obama, told MSNBC.
Eliot Cohen, another Bush-era State Department official and professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, called the report "appalling."
"If accidental, it would be a firing offense for anyone else," Cohen tweeted. "If deliberate, it would be treason."
"If true, it is another indication that you cannot possibly control this guy," Wayne White, a senior intelligence official at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, told POLITICO. "There are red lines that even presidents are not supposed to be crossing. He has to be protecting his own assets. It is really frightening for our people, especially the people who managed the relationship in getting the information."
The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joined Democrats in slamming Donald Trump on Monday over a report the president divulged highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
"To compromise a source is something that you just don't do," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters, adding that he didn’t know yet whether the report was true. "That's why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close, is to prevent that from happening."
H.R. McMaster spent all day denying the Washington Post report which said that Trump shared with Russia highly classified information about Islamic State operations that had been obtained through an intelligence-sharing partner who had not given the United States permission to share the information, in breach of an agreement to obtain said permission prior to sharing. Technically, Trump's conduct did not break the law because presidents may declassify information at will, but it struck current and former U.S. intelligence officials as highly unusual.
"I get great intel," Trump bragged to the Russian officials, according to the Washington Post, just before he shared it with them.
Sean Spicer locked his door (and probably hid behind the ficus in his office.) Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped out from the hallway near the Oval Office to inform the waiting reporters that the White House would be delivering no additional comment Monday night and would not be taking any questions, said Politico.
“Tonight we are not doing any other question and answering at this moment,” she said. “I’ve said all we’re going to say.”
And Senator Corker told other news outlets the White House is "in a downward spiral right now" and needs to get things "under control." Senators McCain and Graham were asked for their views:
“We certainly don't want any president to leak classified information, but the president does have the right to do that because he's commander-in-chief,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). On Twitter, though, McCain said that if the story was true it would be "deeply disturbing."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who along with McCain has been one of Trump’s fiercest GOP critics, said he did not want to comment until he had more facts.
Speaking of hypocrisy, Politico contacted Paul Ryan for a statement. Ryan of course was unavailable for comment but a spokesman for Ryan expressed concern about the Washington Post report, even as senior administration officials continued to issue on-the-record denials. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) used the opportunity to note the Republican outrage over the Hillary Clinton email scandal and Casey let the Republicans have it. Casey drew attention to a tweet last year from Ryan. Referring to Clinton, the Speaker of the House wrote, “Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ with classified information should be denied further access to such info.” We can't agree more, Speaker Ryan, bravo. Shall we take that to mean that you’ll be initiating impeachment proceedings soon?
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