Opinion

Michael A. Cohen

The man-child strikes again with intelligence sharing

A handout photo made available by the Russian Foreign Ministry on May 10, 2017 shows US President Donald J. Trump (C) speaking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak during a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC. US President Donald Trump on May 10 called on Russia to rein in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his key ally Iran, as Washington and Moscow sought to boost their fragile ties with high-profile White House talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the highest-ranking Russian official to visit Washington since Trump came to power in January, earned a rare invitation to the Oval Office for a head-to-head with the Republican president. / AFP PHOTO / RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY / HOHO/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Tussian Foreign Ministry/Getty Images

President Trump speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak during a meeting at the White House, in a photo made available by the Russian Foreign Ministry on May 10.

Every day, it seems, there’s a story about Donald Trump that is so astounding that you simply can’t believe it’s real. Some days there are so many such stories that it’s impossible to keep up.

Monday morning, for example, Politico revealed that deputy national security advisor K.T. McFarland had recently given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers: one from the 1970s warning of a new ice age and another more recent one focused on the perils of global warming. McFarland’s implication was clear: the “lying media” are hypocritical in their reporting about the potentially dire impact of global climate change.

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As it turned out the “ice age” cover is a long-standing Internet hoax that fooled both McFarland and the most powerful man in the world. Once the error had been realized the White House staff was forced to scramble in order to prevent Trump from retweeting it and revealing once again via social media, that the president of the United States is unhinged.

That in itself would be quite a news story, but the same article also contained this tidbit:

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“White House and former campaign aides have tried to make sure Trump’s media diet includes regular doses of praise and positive stories to keep his mood up — a tactic honed by staff during the campaign to keep him from tweeting angrily.”

This is how one might consider dealing with a hyperactive child rather than a 70-year-old adult entrusted with the responsibility of the nation’s highest office.

But all of this was merely the appetizer before Monday’s main course of “you’ve got to be kidding me.” That would be the Washington Post’s blockbuster story that Trump leaked highly classified information about a potential Islamic State terrorist threat to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the United States in a meeting at the White House last week.

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According to the Post, Trump revealed code-word protected information that had been provided to America by a third country. His actions endangered the relationship with a close ally that, according to the Post, “has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.” This could also imperil other intelligence sharing agreements, make it more difficult for the United States to detect future terrorist plots, and could help the Russians in identifying US intelligence sources and techniques.

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, Trump appears to have imperiled US national security because he wanted to show off for his guests. The Post reported that Trump seemed to be boasting to the Russians about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine the president of the United States acting in such a reckless manner. On the other hand, we’re talking about Donald Trump. After all, this is a candidate who during the 2016 presidential campaign actually said these words about Hillary Clinton: “We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘confidential.’”

Now as president he’s revealed classified material in a manner about 1,000 times worse than anything Clinton was even accused of — no less did.

Suffice to say, if Barack Obama had done this, by the time I finished typing this sentence the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would have voted on articles of impeachment and probably passed a celebratory tax cut for good measure.

In a normal political world this would be the moment that congressional Republicans said “enough is enough” and finally held Trump accountable for his actions.

If ever there were a final straw for Trump, the leaking of highly classified information about potential terrorist plots against the United States in the Oval Office to the representative of a foreign government that is both hostile to America and also, through nefarious means, helped get him elected, this would be it.

Then again, if Trump’s presidency has taught us anything it is that tomorrow will likely be worse.

Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.
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