I remember how, just a few days after Trump won the election, I spent a while standing in my kitchen. I was trying to wrap my mind around the national security implications of President Trump: ‘Trump has far too many conflicts of interest. He’s a grifter with no ethical compass. What is going to happen once he had access to the nation’s most classified intelligence?’ That sort of thing.
And, sure enough, we now have a Wikipedia page devoted to the publicly known incidents of Trump disclosing sensitive intelligence or national technical means. We have plenty of reasons to be suspicious that Trump, as well as his family, pursues private interests in the context of U.S. diplomacy. And then there’s the odd matter of meetings with Putin in the absence of any record.
Now, there’s this.
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.
The most interesting speculation I’ve heard connects this to the disclosure of the Russian mole now living in the Washington, DC area. This seems like a strange thing to leak, as it potentially endangers the operative. But, the argument goes, it makes more sense if people in the intelligence community feared Trump was going to, say, deliver the agent to Putin. As CNN reported about a week ago, Trump apparently doesn’t like snitches. Even if they’re working for the United States.
President Donald Trump has privately and repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of foreign intelligence from covert sources, including overseas spies who provide the US government with crucial information about hostile countries, according to multiple senior officials who served under Trump.Trump has privately said that foreign spies can damage relations with their host countries and undermine his personal relationships with their leaders, the sources said. The President “believes we shouldn’t be doing that to each other,” one former Trump administration official told CNN.In addition to his fear such foreign intelligence sources will damage his relationship with foreign leaders, Trump has expressed doubts about the credibility of the information they provide. Another former senior intelligence official told CNN that Trump “believes they’re people who are selling out their country.”
But speculation is as speculation does. All we know is that:
- Trump apparently”promised” a foreign leader something, and that this so alarmed a government official that they blew the whistle.
- The Acting Director of National Intelligence has not been forthcoming, and has offered problematic justifications for not complying with the relevant law.
Keep in mind that this is only one of the incidents of Trump-related obstruction reported on in the last two days.
UPDATE: Campos is, as usual, faster on the blogging.