National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster held a press briefing on Tuesday morning. The content of the actual briefing was entirely devoted to the itinerary of Donald Trump’s upcoming trip out of the country. But almost all the questions were devoted to McMaster’s defense of Trump spilling classified information to Russian officials.
Asked about the Washington Post article, McMaster insisted that the article was “completely false” even though every fact reported in the piece appeared to be true. Why was it false?
“The premise of the article was false. The president didn’t say anything inappropriate.”
“Appropriate” was McMaster’s word for the day. No fewer than a dozen times, he insisted that the information Trump passed on to Russian officials was “wholly appropriate.” It was his fallback response to any question.
For example, when asked if the decision to share information with the Russians was made on the spur of the moment or there was any kind of formal, interagency decision to release this material, McMaster’s response was …
“It’s appropriate for president to share any information he feels is appropriate. He made the decisions in the context of the conversation, which is wholly appropriate.”
Which is a very appropriate way of saying that Trump blabbed without any plan and if the president does it, it’s not a crime. But the most eye-opening response that McMaster made was probably his last one.
“The president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source … “
That put’s McMaster’s answers as:
- If the president says it, it’s okay.
- Donald Trump didn’t know he was spilling information provided from an ally.
Was the information that Trump provided actually classified? McMaster refused to say. Did it come from an allied intelligence agency?
“I’m not going to be the one to confirm that information.”
If it did come from an intelligence partner, was that partner informed of the sharing? Has anyone reached out to them?
“I have not. Not sure what conversation have been held.”
So … Trump shared information on the spur of the moment, he didn’t even know where it came from, it may have endangered an ally, and no one has bothered to check.
Very good. McMaster also discounted the idea that Trump’s information included the name of a city where on-the-ground sources were located saying that “everyone knows” where ISIS operates.
If Donald Trump’s statements were wholly appropriate, wholly appropriate, wholly appropriate, what was an actual problem?
“National security has been put at risk by those leaking information to the press.”
That’s right. Donald Trump leaking classified information to the Russians? Wholly appropriate. Letting the American public know that Trump was spilling information? A threat to national security. McMaster indicated that the regime would bring in people with the “right authority and mandate” to see how the leak occurred.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump will continue to say whatever he wants out of hubris and ignorance. It’s wholly appropriate.