Gary Bauer / May 17, 2017

Another Fake Scandal

Here we go again. The Washington Post broke an explosive story Monday night alleging that President Trump disclosed highly sensitive information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last Wednesday.

Here we go again. The Washington Post broke an explosive story Monday night alleging that President Trump disclosed highly sensitive information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last Wednesday. According to the Post, this news comes from “current and former U.S. officials.” Here are some key points to keep in mind.

The president was never alone with the Russians. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell were also in the room. All three issued statements adamantly denying that anything of consequence was disclosed. As McMaster said in his statement, “Their on the record accounts [Tillerson and Powell] should outweigh anonymous sources. I was in the room. It [inappropriate disclosures] didn’t happen.”

Let’s put this conversation between President Trump and top Russian leaders into context. In October 2015, a Russian airliner taking off from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, Egypt, blew up, killing more than 220 people on board. It was later determined that there was a bomb on the plane and ISIS took credit for downing the aircraft.

On March 21, 2017, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on laptops and other large electronic devices in airplane cabins on flights from eight Islamic countries to the United States. By the way, when this restriction was announced, some in the media accused the administration of profiling Muslims, even though the United Kingdom imposed similar restrictions. The threat is so serious that the administration is expected to expand the laptop ban to include flights from European countries.

As you know, there is a brutal civil war raging in Syria that is destabilizing the Middle East and contributing to an unprecedented wave of Muslim refugees pouring into Europe. The Russians, along with Iran, are allied with the Syrian government.

The United States has been working with various groups opposed to the Assad regime. It is very difficult to find good guys in Syria, but President Trump is trying to get Russia’s cooperation in order to establish conditions that can end the conflict, as well as the turmoil in the region.

Seeking that Russian cooperation, President Trump no doubt reminded the Russian foreign minister and ambassador that ISIS was suspected of blowing up the Russian aircraft. He apparently told them that we have intelligence information warning of a “specific plot” involving ISIS and urged them to cooperate with us on defeating ISIS.

Many in the media, Democrats in Congress and even some Republicans are hyperventilating about concerns that the president may have mentioned the location of an intelligence source. But I suspect that the Russians already know who the U.S.-friendly intelligence agencies are in the Middle East.

Moreover, there is no crime here. The president is the final arbiter of what is and what is not classified. If he decides to share something, that is not leaking classified information.

Contrast the media’s breathless reporting about Trump’s Oval Office meeting with this flashback:

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined … to contain classified information… Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information… Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

That was former FBI Director James Comey explaining Hillary Clinton’s “extremely careless … handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” The entire left-wing media and political establishment spent months trying to convince us that it was no big deal.

Whatever Trump briefly said in a meeting or hundreds of classified emails on an unsecured server, there is no doubt in my mind which one did more damage to our national security.

After the president had this conversation in the Oval Office, as a matter of common practice the CIA and NSA were notified that intelligence information was shared. And that’s when the leaks began. Someone, likely in the intelligence community, then contacted The Washington Post and revealed classified information to reporters.

We know this because the Post admits that it “is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.” That is the crime that should be prosecuted.

Yesterday, Lt. Gen. McMaster addressed the White House press corps. He reiterated that President Trump’s conversation was “wholly appropriate.” Pressed as to whether the president revealed a specific city that could compromise sources, McMaster responded, “All of you are familiar with the threat from ISIS.” He said that reporters could obviously name the cities where ISIS is operating, adding, “It was nothing that you would not know from open-source reporting.”

It is not breaking news that an adversary of the United States — Russia — tried to cause trouble for us by meddling in our elections. What is new and dangerous is that there are partisans in our intelligence agencies who are trying to destroy the duly elected president. They and their big media allies are doing far more to damage the U.S. than the Russians could have ever dreamed of.

Biased Clickbait

This story has little to do with good journalism. This is all about damaging Donald Trump with biased clickbait. When this hit piece broke the record set by the story on the Hollywood Access tapes, applause broke out in the Post’s newsroom. I don’t see how the president’s alleged leaking of secrets is cause for celebration. But, of course, that’s not the point.

Tucker Carlson nailed it when he said this:

Many journalists believe it’s literally impossible to be unfair to Donald Trump… They’ve succumbed to Trump hatred that is so intense, it has destroyed their judgment and in some cases affected their character… They regard him as the single greatest threat to Western civilization since nuclear weapons.

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