Within Days Of Taking Office, Trump Set The Stage For His Current Crisis
WASHINGTON ― If only White House aides had kept their mouths shut, there might never have been a scandal over what President Donald Trump said to Russian officials in the Oval Office.
But Trump’s staffers leaked to the press, and the result was an explosive story in The Washington Post describing how the president shared “highly classified” information from an ally in the Middle East with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to Washington.
The repercussions were swift and severe: Republican lawmakers publicly questioned the president’s fitness for office; intelligence officials said Trump’s actions compromised national security; and longstanding allies suggested they will reconsider how much intelligence to share with American spy agencies in the future.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster defended the president at a press conference Tuesday, telling reporters that whatever Trump shared with the Russians was “wholly appropriate.” He also claimed that the real culprits were White House aides who leaked Trump’s comments to The Washington Post. “National security is put at risk by this leak and leaks like this,” McMaster said.
But the roots of this leak, and of The Washington Post’s bombshell report, were already visible in February, just two weeks into Trump’s presidency. That’s when HuffPost reported that Trump’s volatile behavior had created an environment that was especially conducive to leaks, both from executive agencies and from inside Trump’s own White House.
As Trump embarks on his first foreign trip as president later this week, he does so under a cloud, with a number of U.S. allies openly concerned over whether he can be trusted with sensitive information.
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