Jake Tapper went on a tear at the beginning of his show Tuesday about the classified information Trump shared with the Russians. Apparently this was information CNN also had but was told they could not report because if they did, "people will die."
Tapper explained to his audience that apparently this information was fine to share with Russians, but not the American people. That is still true today.
In March, CNN’s Evan Perez had learned from numerous officials that intelligence deemed credible said that ISIS was developing laptop computer bombs to be used on international flights.
Before reporting this on CNN Perez talked to Trump administration officials who cautioned Perez and subsequently CNN executives to not report certain details about the threat, including the city from which some of the intelligence was collected.
By reporting the city’s name, Trump administration officials insisted, that would tip off American adversaries about sources and methods used to gather the intelligence. It would, they insisted, get people killed.
CNN did not report the details. CNN did not report the name of the city. But last night the Washington Post reported and CNN has since confirmed that government officials say that President Trump, in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, revealed highly classified information about this specific ISIS laptop threat.
The post reported that the President “described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances…”
“Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.”
It’s the same city. It’s the same city that CNN was cautioned not to report.
But here’s the president’s National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, when asked earlier today about the president sharing the name of the city with the Russians.
HRM: If you were to say from where do you think a threat might come from territory that ISIS controls, you would probably be able to name a few cities out there. And so it was nothing that you would not know from open source reporting in terms of a source of concern.
Again, this is the same city that intelligence officials say if we told it to you right now, it would get people killed. but somehow we are simultaneously supposed to believe that President Trump sharing this information — the city and more — with a U.S. adversary, Russia, is “wholly appropriate,” as McMaster said repeatedly today. It’s a term he also seemed to define in terms of if a president does it in the name of national security, it is by definition, appropriate.
Now last night, after the story came out, the Trump administration originally pushed back against the notion that President Trump had divulged sources and methods of intelligence gathering, which neither the Washington Post nor CNN had reported. What we all had reported was what the government was saying back in March when we showed the restraint with publication, the same restraint that the president did not show with Russian officials. He shared information that then, as now, could lead to US adversaries, say, I don’t know — Russia — using counterintelligence to try to figure out how the U.S. knows what it knows.
And just so you know, as of today, before this broadcast, we are still being told by the Trump administration to not report the name of the city.
And we won’t.