The Politicus

Trump's latest intelligence misconduct is far worse than reported

Advertisements

As reported by NBC, [“i]n an unprecedented move that stunned current and former intelligence officials, President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the public release of highly classified documents and text messages related to the FBI investigation into whether his campaign conspired with Russia.”   Davis Kris, the former head of the Justice Department’s national security division, explains just how dangerous Trump’s latest antics are:

“The release of [FISA materials] like this is off the charts. It is especially unprecedented considering that the [documents] have already gone through declassification review and the president is overruling the judgments of his subordinates to require expanded disclosure.

“The president has the literal authority to do this, but here, as in so many other areas, his exercise of authority is tainted by a severe conflict of interest, as he is a subject of investigation to which these [FISA materials] pertain.

“This is perhaps the signal feature of many of his worst actions – he seems assiduously to view and engage with everything through the straw-sized aperture of his own self-interest instead of the broader national interest.”

(DK’s Mark Sumner also has an excellent analysis of the events here.)

But the damage is even worse than discussed in recent reporting because we already know that Trump and Republicans’ reckless betrayal has already greatly harmed our Intelligence agencies, including, for example, that all of our Kremlin intelligence sources have gone “dark” and refuse to talk with the U.S.  As the NYT explained mere weeks ago:

In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details.

But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence.

The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. . . . 

Current and former officials also said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts. And officials also raised the possibility that the outing of an F.B.I. informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.

You see, spies aren’t going to risk their lives if they believe that the U.S. President may just out their identities on a whim and out of political self-interest.  So, they stop talking altogether.   Now, after U.S. Intelligence officials have warned that Trump and the Republicans’ prior misconduct may have helped to shut down all(!) of our Kremlin intelligence assets, Trump goes out and makes yet another (needless) blanket dump of U.S. intelligence sources and methods.

The malfeasance here is breathtaking and open.*/

*/  And could at least one Democratic leader begin making this argument cogently and repeatedly?