Trump Refutes iPhone Usage in Angry Tweet Sent From iPhone

President Trump began his Thursday morning by blaming the attempted assassination of his political adversaries on the media. He’d said as much the night before at a rally in Wisconsin, but his early-morning tweet seems to be inspired by New York Times report about the president’s careless cell phone use, which has allowed China and Russia to listen in on his calls.

Less than half-an-hour before he attributed the “Anger we see today in our society” to the “Fake News,” Trump railed against the story in the Times.

Trump followed up his capitalized show of reverence to “Government Phones” by noting that he rarely even uses cell phones, preferring the far more dignified “Hard Lines.”

In April, CNN reported that Trump was beginning to use his cell phone with increasing frequency, and that, according to a senior White House official, he “is talking to all sorts of people on it.” The tweets he wrote Thursday morning refuting the story in the Times were sent using an iPhone.

Trump’s refusal to abandon his personal phone has been well documented, but this latest report from the Times delves into the implications of the president’s indifference to securing his communications. The report notes that U.S. intelligence has found that the Chinese are often listening when Trump rings up his friends, “putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy.”

In May, Politico reported that the president uses an unsecured cell phone that is susceptible to hacking and surveillance, and that he has ignored staffers who have insisted he strengthen the security of his communications. According to administration officials, Trump has two cell phones, one for Twitter and one for making calls, and has gone as long as five months without having the latter checked by security experts. The report notes that President Obama swapped out his phone every 30 days. Both Politico and now the Times reported that Trump has refused to do the same, calling the practice too “inconvenient.” The Times also noted that in addition to the two White House cell phones, Trump also maintains a personal iPhone with no security protections because he is able to store his contacts in it.

Though a White House official assured Politico that Trump’s “devices are more secure than any Obama-era devices,” not everyone agrees. “Foreign adversaries seeking intelligence about the U.S. are relentless in their pursuit of vulnerabilities in our government’s communications networks, and there is no more sought-after intelligence target than the president of the United States,” said Nate Jones, who served as a counterterrorism director on the National Security Council under President Obama. The Times report from Wednesday notes that intercepting calls is “a relatively easy skill for governments,” which is why most heads of state refrain from using cell phones.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that both China and Russia have been listening in on the president’s calls. The Times reports that China in particular is using the calls to determine how to influence the president, especially as the trade war between the two superpowers intensifies. Because some of the business magnates with whom the president regularly speaks have interests in China, the nation’s government is attempting to use other business figures to lobby them to nudge the president in a direction they deem beneficial to China. “The strategy is that those people will pass on what they are hearing, and that Beijing’s views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices,” officials told the Times, noting that “they can only hope” the president doesn’t divulge any sensitive information.

The president has reportedly been warned that the adversaries are listening to his phone calls, but has refused refused to change his practices. Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters continue to call for Hillary Clinton to be jailed over her use of an unsecured private email server. Questions surrounding Clinton’s emails served as the foundation of Trump’s attacks against her during the 2016 campaign. “We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies,” Trump said that June.

[Rolling Stone]

Reality

Use Twitter’s TweeDesk service, do a search for @realDonaldTrump, find the tweet.

When Trump Phones Friends, the Chinese Listen and Learn

When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

Mr. Trump’s use of his iPhones was detailed by several current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss classified intelligence and sensitive security arrangements. The officials said they were doing so not to undermine Mr. Trump, but out of frustration with what they considered the president’s casual approach to electronic security.

American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.

The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.

Among those on the list are Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group chief executive who has endowed a master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Steve Wynn, the former Las Vegas casino magnate who used to own a lucrative property in Macau.

The Chinese have identified friends of both men and others among the president’s regulars, and are now relying on Chinese businessmen and others with ties to Beijing to feed arguments to the friends of the Trump friends. The strategy is that those people will pass on what they are hearing, and that Beijing’s views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices, the officials said. They added that the Trump friends were most likely unaware of any Chinese effort.

L. Lin Wood, a lawyer for Mr. Wynn, said his client was retired and had no comment. A spokeswoman for Blackstone, Christine Anderson, declined to comment on Chinese efforts to influence Mr. Schwarzman but said that he “has been happy to serve as an intermediary on certain critical matters between the two countries at the request of both heads of state.”

Russia is not believed to be running as sophisticated an influence effort as China because of Mr. Trump’s apparent affinity for President Vladimir V. Putin, a former official said.

China’s effort is a 21st-century version of what officials there have been doing for many decades, which is trying to influence American leaders by cultivating an informal network of prominent businesspeople and academics who can be sold on ideas and policy prescriptions and then carry them to the White House. The difference now is that China, through its eavesdropping on Mr. Trump’s calls, has a far clearer idea of who carries the most influence with the president, and what arguments tend to work.

The Chinese and the Russians “would look for any little thing — how easily was he talked out of something, what was the argument that was used,” said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the agency’s Russia program.

Trump friends like Mr. Schwarzman, who figured prominently in the first meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida resort, already hold pro-China and pro-trade views, and thus are ideal targets in the eyes of the Chinese, the officials said. Targeting the friends of Mr. Schwarzman and Mr. Wynn can reinforce the views of the two, the officials said. The friends are also most likely to be more accessible.

One official said the Chinese were pushing for the friends to persuade Mr. Trump to sit down with Mr. Xi as often as possible. The Chinese, the official said, correctly perceive that Mr. Trump places tremendous value on personal relationships, and that one-on-one meetings yield breakthroughs far more often than regular contacts between Chinese and American officials.

Whether the friends can stop Mr. Trump from pursuing a trade war with China is another question.

Officials said the president has two official iPhones that have been altered by the National Security Agency to limit their capabilities — and vulnerabilities — and a third personal phone that is no different from hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world. Mr. Trump keeps the personal phone, White House officials said, because unlike his other two phones, he can store his contacts in it.

Apple declined to comment on the president’s iPhones. None of them are completely secure and are vulnerable to hackers who could remotely break into the phones themselves.

But the calls made from the phones are intercepted as they travel through the cell towers, cables and switches that make up national and international cellphone networks. Calls made from any cellphone — iPhone, Android, an old-school Samsung flip phone — are vulnerable.

The issue of secure communications is fraught for Mr. Trump. As a presidential candidate, he regularly attacked his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 campaign for her use of an unsecured email server while she was secretary state, and he basked in chants of “lock her up” at his rallies.

Intercepting calls is a relatively easy skill for governments. American intelligence agencies consider it an essential tool of spycraft, and they routinely try to tap the phones of important foreign leaders. In a diplomatic blowup during the Obama administration, documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, showed that the American government had tapped the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Foreign governments are well aware of the risk, and so leaders like Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin avoid using cellphones when possible.

President Barack Obama was careful with cellphones, too. He used an iPhone in his second term, but it could not make calls and could receive email only from a special address that was given to a select group of staff members and intimates. It had no camera or microphone and could not be used to download apps at will. Texting was forbidden because there was no way to collect and store the messages, as required by the Presidential Records Act.

“It is a great phone, state of the art, but it doesn’t take pictures, you can’t text. The phone doesn’t work, you know, you can’t play your music on it,” Mr. Obama said on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” in June 2016. “So basically, it’s like — does your 3-year-old have one of those play phones?”

When Mr. Obama needed a cellphone, the officials said, he used one of those of his aides.
Mr. Trump has insisted on more capable devices, although he did agree during the transition to give up his Android phone (the Google operating system is considered more vulnerable than Apple’s). And since becoming president, Mr. Trump has agreed to a slightly cumbersome arrangement of having two official phones: one for Twitter and other apps, and one for calls.

Mr. Trump typically relies on his mobile phones when he does not want a call going through the White House switchboard and logged for senior aides to see, his aides said. Many of those Mr. Trump speaks with most often on one of his cellphones, such as hosts at Fox News, share the president’s political views, or simply enable his sense of grievance about any number of subjects.

Administration officials said Mr. Trump’s longtime paranoia about surveillance — well before coming to the White House he believed his phone conversations were often being recorded — gave them some comfort that he was not disclosing classified information on the calls.

They said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.

In an interview this week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump quipped about his phones being insecure. When asked what American officials in Turkey had learned about the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he replied, “I actually said don’t give it to me on the phone. I don’t want it on the phone. As good as these phones are supposed to be.”

But Mr. Trump is also famously indiscreet. In a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials, he shared highly sensitive intelligence passed to the United States by Israel. He also told the Russians that James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, was “a real nut job” and that firing him had relieved “great pressure.”

Still, Mr. Trump’s lack of tech savvy has alleviated some other security concerns. He does not use email, so the risk of a phishing attack like those used by Russian intelligence to gain access to Democratic Party emails is close to nil. The same goes for texts, which are disabled on his official phones.

His Twitter phone can connect to the internet only over a Wi-Fi connection, and he rarely, if ever, has access to unsecured wireless networks, officials said. But the security of the device ultimately depends on the user, and protecting the president’s phones has sometimes proved difficult.

Last year, Mr. Trump’s cellphone was left behind in a golf cart at his club in Bedminster, N.J., causing a scramble to locate it, according to two people familiar with what took place.

Mr. Trump is supposed to swap out his two official phones every 30 days for new ones but rarely does, bristling at the inconvenience. White House staff members are supposed to set up the new phones exactly like the old ones, but the new iPhones cannot be restored from backups of his old phones, because doing so would transfer over any malware.

New phone or old, though, the Chinese and the Russians are listening, and learning.

[The New York Times]

Trump bragged about classified Syria skirmish at fundraiser

The White House has tried to avoid discussing a February skirmish between U.S. troops and Russian mercenaries in Syria, but that didn’t stop President Donald Trump from bragging about the Pentagon’s performance at a recent closed-door fundraiser.

The details of the battle remain classified, but speaking to donors in midtown Manhattan last Wednesday, Trump said he was amazed by the performance of American F-18 pilots. He suggested that the strikes may have been as brief as “10 minutes” and taken out 100 to 300 Russians, according to a person briefed on the president’s remarks, which have not previously been reported.

Trump often makes unscripted comments at fundraisers, and he revels in the exploits of the U.S. military. At a Republican National Committee fundraiser last fall, he told the crowd that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had “never lost a battle,” and he has bragged about the country’s nuclear superiority in confrontations with North Korea.

American officials have long feared that a clash with Russian forces in Syria would add tension to the already strained relationship between the two countries, and they intentionally avoided Russian targets last month when they bombed the country in response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. According to The New York Times, which last week provided the first detailed description of the battle, the confrontation lasted four hours and left between 200 and 300 pro-Assad forces dead.

[Politico]

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince reportedly bragged about having Jared Kushner ‘in his pocket’ after being told classified information meant for Trump

Jared Kushner reportedly discussed classified information obtained from the President’s Daily Brief with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who bragged that he had Kushner “in his pocket,” according to a report by The Intercept.

Presidential son-in-law-turned-advisor Jared Kushner reportedly had a penchant for reading President Donald Trump’s daily brief, a highly sensitive intelligence update that is only meant to be seen by the president and his top advisers, before being stripped of his top security clearance and access to the daily brief in February.

Before losing his security access, Kushner was particularly interested about information on the Middle East, the Intercept reported, citing several former White House and US government officials.

When Salman became the new heir to the throne in June last year, the daily brief reportedly began to focus on shifting political allegiances in Saudi Arabia, and named several Saudi royals who were opposed to the crown prince’s position.

Kushner then made a surprise trip to Riyadh in October, reportedly staying up until 4 a.m. with Salman to discuss strategy.

Several sources told the Intercept that following the meeting, Salman told close confidants that Kushner had spilled the names of the Saudi royals “disloyal” to the prince, although Kushner’s camp strongly denies the claim.

Salman reportedly told the United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed about the meeting with Kushner, bragging that he had Kushner “in his pocket,” sources told the Intercept.

Just a week after the meeting Salman began his large-scale corruption crackdown, which saw 200 officials arrested. According to the report, Saudi officials mentioned in the daily briefs were among those detained.

The “two princes” have forged a close bond

Kushner has built a close relationship with the Salman, setting the stage for close communication between the the US and Saudi Arabia.

Kushner and Salman began their friendship at a lunch meeting at the White House last year, according to the Washington Post, citing sources familiar with their relationship. The two have been tasked with leading negotiations on Israel-Palestine peace, and have consulted frequently in private phone calls over several months, according to the Post.

A source close to Kushner told CNN that Kushner’s relationship with the Saudi prince is more personal and close than other professional relationships between the US and world leaders, and that Kushner seeks to use that bond to deepen ties between the countries.

Kushner is said to be playing an important role in Salman’s visit to the US this week.

Kushner attended official meetings between the president and the Saudi delegation, and is scheduled in for several dinners with Salman and other US and Saudi officials.

[Business Insider]

Trump Retweets Fox News Story Containing Classified Info

President Donald Trump’s retweet of a Fox News story claiming US satellites detected North Korea moving anti-cruise ship missiles to a patrol boat is raising eyebrows on Tuesday after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley indicated that the information in the report is classified and was leaked.

“I can’t talk about anything that’s classified and if that’s in the newspaper that’s a shame,” Haley said Tuesday on “Fox and Friends” when asked about the story that cites two anonymous sources.

Pushed on whether the information was leaked, Haley said “it’s one of those things I don’t know what’s going on. I will tell you it’s incredibly dangerous when things get out into the press like that.”

But just a few hours before Haley’s appearance on Fox, Trump retweeted a post from the Fox News morning show promoting the story said to contain classified information.

CNN has not independently verified the Fox News report and the White House has not responded to a request for comment.

Trump’s motive for retweeting the Fox News story remains unclear but the decision to promote a report that — according to the US ambassador to the United Nations — contains classified information leaked to the press by anonymous sources comes just days after the President praised Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to combat that very practice in the name of national security.

“After many years of LEAKS going on in Washington, it is great to see the A.G. taking action!” Trump tweeted. “For National Security, the tougher the better!” Trump tweeted over the weekend.

Tuesday’s retweet also coincided with the release of a series of new polls that not only call Trump’s Twitter habits into question but also reveal major concerns around the President’s trustworthiness and ability to effectively manage the standoff with North Korea.

According to a new CBS News poll only a third of those surveyed having confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the situation with North Korea.

A new CNN poll shows that a majority (52%) of Americans say Trump’s tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views on important issues, and 72% say they do not send the right message to other world leaders.

Further, 62% overall say that Trump’s statements and actions since taking office have made them less confident in his ability to be president.

In May, Trump was criticized after The Washington Post reported that he shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the US in a White House meeting.

Despite statements from top administration officials that called the report “false,” two former officials knowledgeable of the situation confirmed to CNN at the time that the main points of the Post story were accurate.

[CNN]

Trump Tells Duterte of Two U.S. Nuclear Subs in Korean Waters

U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.

[Reuters]

Reality

BuzzFeed News is reporting that “Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart reveals that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.”

The report goes on to quote officials as saying, “We never talk about subs!”

Donald Trump Says He Has Absolute Right to Share Intelligence with Russia

President Donald Trump pushed back on an explosive story in The Washington Post that he shared classified information with members of the Russian government during a meeting last week, arguing on Twitter that he had an “absolute right” to do so and engaged in the discussion for “humanitarian reasons.”

Trump did not characterize the information as classified but as “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline safety.” The White House called the Post story “false.”

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” Trump wrote in a two-part tweet.

According to The Washington Post, the nature of the information was related to an Islamic State terrorist threat and gathered by a United States intelligence partner. The report says that Trump disclosed the information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last Wednesday, even though Russia is not a partner in the intelligence-sharing arrangement from which the information originated.

As president, Trump has the legal power to declassify information, but officials worry these reported disclosures to the Russians could jeopardize that intelligence-sharing operation.

A senior U.S. official has confirmed two key details of the Post story to ABC News, namely that the White House was concerned enough after the meeting with the Russians that calls were placed to the CIA and NSA to relay information that the president had shared, and that notes on the meeting were edited in order to remove information that was deemed to be sensitive.

The official clarified these points by suggesting that the calls to intelligence agencies were intended to avoid any misunderstanding about what the president had shared, and that the redactions like what had taken place with the notes were routine occurrences.

The White House fervently denied allegations that the president gave away classified intelligence information to Russian officials in statements that were made Monday.

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation,” said national security adviser H.R. McMaster. “At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”

“I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” added McMaster.

“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser for strategy, said in a statement.

Neither McMaster or Powell specifically addressed the allegation that the president revealed classified information or the possibility that he may have jeopardized an intelligence-sharing operation.

Earlier in the day, McMaster ran into a group of reporters in the White House seeking comment on the story.

“This is the last place in the world I wanted to be,” said McMaster, who left without answering questions.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who met with Lavrov at the State Department before the foreign minister’s visit to the White House last week, released a statement on the situation.

“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a broad range of subjects were discussed, among which were common efforts and threats regarding counterterrorism,” said Tillerson. “During that exchange, the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Washington would not comment on the matter and would not discuss the Russians’ interactions with Trump.

On Capitol Hill, as news of the disclosure spread, senators on both sides of the aisle indicated their displeasure with the report.

“If it’s accurate, it would be troubling,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, described the dispatch as “really shocking,” and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, called it “disturbing.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s handling of classified information and use of a private email server while secretary of state were key points of criticism by Trump and the GOP during last year’s campaign.

Shortly after the nature of Trump’s meeting with the Russians was revealed Monday, past statements by Trump and a number of Republicans as well as social media posts relating to Clinton’s security practices resurfaced.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team ‘were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’ Not fit!” wrote Trump on Twitter last July.

“It’s simple: Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ w/ classified info should be denied further access to it,” tweeted Speaker of the House Paul Ryan about Clinton the same month, with a link to a press release titled “Speaker Ryan Presses for Action on Clinton Recklessness With Classified Information.”

“Why should we trust Clinton with our nation’s cybersecurity when she so recklessly jeopardized classified information?” asked then–Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, now the White House chief of staff, on Twitter last September.

The Democratic National Committee released a scathing statement in which it said Trump’s actions “could end with him in handcuffs” if he were not the president.

“Russia no longer has to spy on us to get information — they just ask President Trump, and he spills the beans with highly classified information that jeopardizes our national security and hurts our relationships with allies,” said the DNC.

[ABC News]

Reality

Donald Trump again threw his defenders under the bus by completely undercutting their spin and simply coming out and admiting to his highly questionable decision making. It really is amazing, for example:

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told the press, “What I’m saying is really the premise of that article is false.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to look past what Trump actually released to the Russians and pointed out, “He did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

Fox News tried to smear the reporting at The Washington Post by telling their viewers they were wrong that time before and therefore they must be wrong now!

…A few hours later…

Trump: “Yeah I shared classified intel with the Russians and I have the absolute right to do so!!!”

 

Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information to Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador

The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump divulged highly classified information during his meeting with Russian officials last week.

Officials told the Post that the information was incredibly sensitive and that its exposure endangers the relationship with an ally, which had not approved sharing the information with Russia. This ally, officials told the Post, “has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.”

BuzzFeed, The New York Times and Reuters later confirmed the Post’s report.

In the wake of the reports, White House officials pushed back, saying Trump didn’t discuss intelligence sources or methods of collection.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that during Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

National security advisor H.R. McMaster echoed those remarks, saying “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

Dina Powell, deputy national security advisor for strategy, called the reports false, saying “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Officials told the Post that Trump’s disclosure could obstruct intelligence operations by the United States and its allies.

While Trump’s release of highly classified information could seriously damage the U.S. relationship with the ally that collected the information, the president, as the Post noted, has the broad authority to declassify information.

The CIA declined to comment to the Post. The NSA did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment.

A former intelligence official told CNBC that if Trump’s reveal was unintentional, it is a demonstration of “shocking disregard or lack of understanding of classified material.” The official added that if Trump’s disclosure was intentional, it would mark a significant shift in the U.S. approach to intelligence alliances.

[CNBC]

Trump Leaked Classified CIA Intel to Tucker Carlson on Live TV

Pres. Donald Trump either leaked classified intelligence information to the world or told another whopping fib on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Wednesday when he said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s servers were hacked under Pres. Barack Obama.

TheHill.com reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a press release, “In his effort to once again blame Obama, the President appeared to have discussed something that, if true and accurate, would otherwise be considered classified information.”

“I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken — that was during the Obama years,” claimed Trump Wednesday night. “That was not during us. That was during the Obama situation. Mike Pompeo is there now doing a fantastic job.”

Schiff said, “The President has the power to declassify whatever he wants, but this should be done as the product of thoughtful consideration and with intense input from any agency affected. For anyone else to do what the President may have done, would constitute what he deplores as ‘leaks.’”

(h/t Raw Story)

Trump Reportedly Being Kept in the Dark About Sensitive Intelligence Due to Concerns About Leaks

U.S. intelligence officials’ mistrust of President Donald Trump is so acute that they have withheld information from him, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing current and former officials familiar with the matter.

The information withheld includes the sources and methods used to collect the intelligence, according to the newspaper.

The report comes amid Trump’s claims that intelligence agencies have leaked information to undermine him. In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump blasted the intelligence community for leaks.

And in tweets on Thursday, Trump lashed out at the media.

“Any suggestion that the U.S. intelligence community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true,” the Office of Director of National Intelligence said in a statement to the Journal.

The White House said it does not have evidence this is actually happening, the Journal said.

Withholding some information from presidents is not new for intelligence agencies, but the difference in Trump’s case is that the decision to refrain from sharing sensitive intelligence stemmed from concerns about leaks or compromises, the Journal reported.

To read more, check out the full Wall Street Journal report.

(h/t CNBC)

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