A new article by Howard Blum, Vanity Fair contributing editor, sheds light on the secrets that the so-called president spilled to the Russians last spring, and the shadow that it cast upon the relationships between America’s Intelligence agencies and its foreign partners—as well as US political leadership. It should be noted at the outset that Mr Blum has very good contacts within the Intelligence community.
Still on an adrenaline rush after firing Comey, Trump hosted the Russian Ambassador to the US and the Russian Foreign Minister at the White House, where he proceeded to make a fool of himself in a bid to impress. It wasn’t just Trump’s reputation that was damaged, though. As many of us had been fearing, his childish, insufferable narcissism—coupled with his greed and lust for power—would lead him to making an utter disaster of US foreign relations, and likely cause innumerable crises around the globe.
Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe revealed what Trump had done in the Washington Post shortly after that meeting. (To which the US press had not been invited, though there were representatives of Russian media in attendance.)
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.
“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.”
John McCain probably revealed less to the KGB in 5+ years of torture at the Hanoi Hilton than Trump did in 5 minutes in the Oval. https://t.co/mlq6ndE9FE
Ã¢ÂÂ David Kochel (@ddkochel) May 15, 2017
Back then there weren’t a lot of details available and, though it was likely that it was Israel, even the identity of the other nation was not confirmed. Now Blum has filled in some of the details about what Trump told the Russians, how that information could have been further shared, and just scratches the surface of what kind and how much damage he may have caused.
Yet this triumph would be overshadowed by an astonishing conversation in the Oval Office in May, when an intemperate President Trump revealed details about the classified mission to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Along with the tempest of far-reaching geopolitical consequences that raged as a result of the president’s disclosure, fresh blood was spilled in his long-running combative relationship with the nation’s clandestine services. Israel—as well as America’s other allies—would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment as it wondered, not for the first time, what was going on with Trump and Russia. (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.) In the hand-wringing aftermath, the entire event became, as is so often the case with spy stories, a tale about trust and betrayal.
Blum describes how Mossad had been supplying crucial information—gleaned through assets deep under cover in dangerous territory—about what the Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah were getting up to inside Syria. But, beyond that recent sharing, there have been much vital cooperation, for decades, between Israel and the US. A relationship that Trump’s actions may have forever curtailed. The damage that this so-called president has done will certainly cause the Israelis to hold back an awful lot more.
But they were warned.
It was against this reassuring backdrop of recent successes and shared history, an Israeli source told Vanity Fair, that a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials took their seats in a Langley conference room on a January morning just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump. The meeting proceeded uneventfully; updates on a variety of ongoing classified operations were dutifully shared.It was only as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump, he declared without offering further specifics, according to a report in the Israeli press. Israel, the American officials continued, should “be careful” after January 20—the date of Trump’s inauguration. It was possible that sensitive information shared with the White House and the National Security Council could be leaked to the Russians. A moment later the officials added what many of the Israelis had already deduced: it was reasonable to presume that the Kremlin would share some of what they learned with their ally Iran, Israel’s most dangerous adversary.
Just think about that.
Go read the Blum article for the back-story. I chose not to include any of the details because he tells it well enough. And its his exclusive, after all.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.