When a new chief executive is sworn in, he pledges to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.” It is thus a blatant violation of that oath — and a potentially impeachable offense — to blithely spill highly classified intelligence to a foreign adversary, intelligence deemed vital to our national security.
Indeed, when commentators like me warned all last year that Donald Trump was “a clear and present danger” to the United States, the Oval Office incident with the Russians was precisely the kind of thing we worried about.
Only a clueless charlatan fueled by braggadocio would usher in two Russians with spy credentials — plus a Russian media team, with its electronic equipment — and openly boast, “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day” (the size of his hands, the taste of his chocolate cake, great intel — it’s all the same to him), and then proceed to dish about life-or-death intelligence that was obtained on the hush hush from another nation’s undercover agent.
As The Washington Post reported (with confirmation from Reuters, The New York Times, and Buzzfeed), Trump’s loose lips “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State,” and that indeed Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” The fact that U.S. intel sources are talking so openly to the free and independent press is alarming proof that the adults in government know this man-child is out of control and badly in need of a binky.
Say whatever you want about the impeachable Richard Nixon, but rest assured that Tricky would’ve endured jowl reduction surgery before he’d have ever shared secrets with the Russians.
Nixon, as someone with actual foreign policy experience, knew that sharing such secrets would put an ally’s undercover agents at risk. He knew — heck, we all know — that if a president is that stupid, our allies are likely to be a lot less willing to share their sensitive intel in the future. That’s a bad thing, because we need the allies’ intel, especially in the Middle East. If we have less intel on looming terror plots, it puts more American civilians at risk.
As one presidential candidate warned repeatedly during the ’16 campaign, “We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential.” So said Donald Trump. He said that whenever he was in heat about Hillary’s private email server. He also said, “I don’t think it’s safe to have Hillary Clinton be briefed on national security, because the word will get out.”
Apparently he used to think that guarding our intel secrets was very important — until he got his clutches on the secrets. This morning, he confirmed on Twitter that he had spilled to the Russians for “humanitarian reasons.” If you buy that, chances are you’ll still excuse anything this guy does. The truth, as one former senior U.S. official, who’s close to current Trump aides, tells The Washington Post, the charlatan “doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with.”
Or, as Bob Corker, the usually reticent Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last night of the Trump regime: “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral.” Or, as foreign policy veteran Thomas Wright tells conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, “This is quite literally the sum of all fears. For the past few months, we have heard that Trump is normalizing. It is nonsense.”
Trump’s flagrant breach of his Oath of Office constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor, especially since Congress can define that term however it wants (add that to his obstruction-of-justice confession last Friday that he fired FBI chief James Comey because he thinks the Russia probe is fake). But we’re hearing nothing of substance from neutered Paul Ryan (natch), who said last night through a spokesman that “we have no way to know what was said” during the Russians’ Oval Office meetup.
Well, guess what: the Russians probably know what was said. As Eliot Cohen, former senior counselor to Condoleezza Rice, helpfully points out: “It seems likely that the Russians captured all of the conversation — they were allowed to bring their electronics into the room, including the only video cameras, the American press having been excluded — they undoubtedly got all of it. And you bet that their analysts are even now chuckling as they figure out what the (western intelligence) sources were.”
Way back in the summer of ’16, when Hillary’s email server was supposedly the gold standard of security breaches, Paul Ryan declared that she was unqualified for higher office because she couldn’t be trusted with classified briefings. In his words, “Individuals who are extremely careless should be denied further access to information.” If he had an ounce of self-respect, he’d apply the same standard today and rightfully conclude that Trump has fatally compromised his presidency.
Remember when Trump boasted that he’s impervious to anything short of shooting someone on Fifth Avenue? What he did with the Russians was worse.
Which brings us, yet again, to the most critical question of all: What will it take to get this guy gone?