The funny catch-22 about people talking about classified information, is that the people talking about the classified info can lie about the classified info all they want and there is no penalty. While those who know the truth of the very same classified information can’t say anything to clarify, or deny what was said erroneously about the classified info because that itself would actually violate security clearance and classification.
So if you are hearing about classified information, what you are hearing is most likely a lie, and no one will ever correct the lie because that would compromise the classified information.
I’ll try to unpack this.
Yesterday, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said the original WaPo report was false. That’s a complicated denial, because the thing which McMaster said was false — that Trump revealed “methods and sources” to the Russians — wasn’t in the original WaPo report.
So McMaster denied something nobody was reporting, which could have been obfuscation or could have been a misunderstanding of what was reported. We just don’t know. What we do know is that McMaster is on record saying that the President did not reveal the methods and sources which could endangered an intelligence operation and our spies on the ground.
Despite what WaPo implied today, Trump’s tweet did not contradict McMaster’s complicated denial. Trump says he shared anti-ISIS intel, minus the methods and sources, with Russia — as is his right. Whether or not that was wise depends on how you view the potential for combined U.S.-Russian anti-ISIS operations. “It’s complicated” would probably be a fair assessment.
So the short version is that the President did share “highly classified information” regarding ISIS and/or terrorism in general, but not in such a way to compromise either our intelligence gathering or our intelligence officers. And that last bit comes from no less than H.R. McMaster, who wrote the book (or at least one of the first books) on how careless and stupid politicians got us into Vietnam and doomed our war there.
It’s complicated true enough, but how much of Trump’s “carelessness” is a deliberate strategy? President Trump is better at mass media than just about anyone, especially anyone working in mass media.
While the mass media spends all of it’s energy on distractions like this, the President is signing legislation, executive orders and presidential actions, appointing judges, and restructuring entire federal departments.