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2480d ago / 11:25 PM UTC

'SABOTAGE': Trump Campaign Fundraises Off News of Comey Memos

The fundraising email, sent off the news of Trump's latest crisis, quotes adviser Steve Bannon and invites supporters to "contribute $1 to drain the swamp."

2480d ago / 11:45 PM UTC

Catching up on Trump Intel Stories? Five Things to Read

Comey Wrote Memo Saying Trump Urged Him to Drop Flynn Investigation: Sources (NBC News):

Fired FBI Director James Comey wrote an internal memo saying President Donald Trump asked him to shut down an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of the memo told NBC News on Tuesday.

Israel Was Source of Intelligence Trump Shared With Russians (NBC News):

Israel was the source of ISIS-related intelligence that President Donald Trump shared with Russia last week, according to three government officials with knowledge of the matter.

At a Besieged White House, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls (The New York Times):

In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling — and honest — defense of the president: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of printed briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would do harm to United States allies.

European Country Might Halt US Intel Sharing (The Associated Press):

“A senior European intelligence official tells The Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms President Donald Trump shared classified details with Russian officials. The official said Tuesday that doing so "could be a risk for our sources.”

No, Trump Did Not Break the Law In Talking Classified Details With the Russians (Washington Post):

“When it comes to classification issues and those kinds of things, he’s not above the law,” said Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a criminal defense lawyer who has done significant work on cases involving classified information. “He basically is the law.”

2480d ago / 9:45 PM UTC

Democrats, Intelligence Officials Warn Trump Disclosures Put Lives At Risk

Along with potentially alienating a key U.S. intelligence gathering partner, President Donald Trump may have directly put people in danger by disclosing classified information to Russian officials during a meeting last week.  

Some Democratic lawmakers and former intelligence officials warned that, depending on what exactly Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the lives of those gathering the intel provided by Israel to the U.S. may now be at risk.

“They may have agents in the field using a sensitive collection system. They may have an electronic collection system. Whatever it is, Israel is going to be pulling it out right now because they are not going to take any chances that whoever they have that is this close to ISIS is going to survive for the next 24 hours,” Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. intelligence official, said on MSNBC on Tuesday.  

Democrats as well cautioned in broad terms that Trump’s disclosures could also put U.S. lives in danger. However, it remains largely unclear what exact information the president reportedly shared and how it would directly threaten American lives.

“Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Monday.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said the information Trump divulged to the Russians was “wholly appropriate” while speaking to reporters Tuesday.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer did not confirm the intelligence came from his country, but said in a statement that Israel "has full confidence in our intelligence sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump."

- Political Reporter Andrew Rafferty

2480d ago / 9:08 PM UTC

How Some GOP Senators Answered Questions on Trump Intel Report

  1. Sen. Rand Paul, while jogging away from a reporter: “No comment.”
  2. Sen. Ted Cruz: “Just call our press office — I'm headed to the health care meeting."
  3. Sen. John Hoeven: “We need to get more information on it.”
  4. Sen. Chuck Grassley: “I'm going to wait until I get a briefing, a secure briefing on it, before I make any statement on that.”
  5. Sen. Marco Rubio: “I'm not disputing it, I'm not admitting it, I just want to know more.” 
  6. Sen. Tim Scott, asked if he had an opinion outside a Senate hearing: “None.”
  7. Sen. Mitch McConnell: "I think we can do with a little less drama from the White House.”
  8. Sen. Jeff Flake: "It would be nice to have a drama-free week."
2480d ago / 8:19 PM UTC

Israeli Ambassador: Nothing to See Here

Amid confirmation by NBC News and The New York Times that Israel was the source of the highly classified intelligence the president reportedly disclosed to Russian diplomats, the Israeli ambassador is out with a statement seemingly aimed at smoothing over the charged situation.

"Israel has full confidence in our intelligence sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump," Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said

2481d ago / 6:11 PM UTC

Disputing McMaster, Some U.S. Intel Officials Don't Believe Sharing Was 'Appropriate'

Two U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News that many people inside the U.S. intelligence community dispute National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s characterization that President Donald Trump’s sharing of sensitive terrorism intelligence with the Russian foreign minister was “appropriate.”

The reason White House counter terrorism adviser Tom Bossert alerted the CIA and the NSA shortly after the meeting, these officials said, is that Trump shared intelligence about the laptop bomb threat derived from a partner country.  

McMaster confirmed that Trump also disclosed the city in ISIS-held Syria from which that intelligence emanated.

McMaster said in a briefing early Tuesday afternoon, “It was nothing that you would not know from open source reporting.”

But U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that the disclosure could compromise the source of the information, will lead the partner to stop sharing and will make other countries reluctant to share intelligence with the United States.

- MSNBC Politics Managing Editor Dafna Linzer and National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian

 

2481d ago / 6:02 PM UTC

Sen. John Cornyn Doesn't Want to Lead the FBI, After All

That didn't last long.

After interviewing to lead the FBI — and the nation's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia — on Saturday, Sen. John Cornyn pulled his name from consideration Tuesday. He drops out amid a flurry of explosive reports that the president gave highly classified intelligence to Russian diplomats. 

"Now more than ever the country needs a well-credentialed, independent FBI Director. I’ve informed the Administration that I’m committed to helping them find such an individual, and that the best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the U.S. Senate," he said in a statement.

2481d ago / 5:07 PM UTC

Back When Things Were Normal, There Was a Process for Sharing Info With Russia

Normally, when the U.S. government wants to share intelligence with Russia, there is an elaborate vetting process, current and former officials say. Sometimes the reports are marked “REL Russia,” for “releasable Russia.”

“There is a process for sharing releasable intelligence with the Russians,” Eric Pelofsky, a former National Security Council senior director, told NBC News. “For the president, it could take a few hours — and it would be sanitized in a way that would be respectful of the risk. And, likely as part of that process, our intelligence community would engage our intelligence partner so that we would not jeopardize the continuing flow of intelligence from them.”

-National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian

 

2481d ago / 2:40 PM UTC

Senators Sound Off (Or Dodge) On Trump Intel Story

Senators are under siege today, and no, it's not the midterms.

With an army of reporters traipsing the Senate floors, Republicans and Democrats alike are all being asked: What do you think of Trump's intel disclosure? 

"Loose lips sink ships," declared Delaware Democrat Sen. Tom Carper outside a Senate Finance Committee meeting, while Michigan Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow was more blunt in her declaration that "the president is dangerous."

Republicans bobbed and weaved.

Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio said he'd reached out to the White House for answers.

"If it's accurate, it's concerning," South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune said carefully.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott ducked when asked if he had any comment: "None."

2481d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

With Critical Intel on Line, McConnell Complains of 'Drama'

Amid explosive reports that the president's disclosure to Russian diplomats risks a critical source in the fight against ISIS and potentially damages America's intelligence abilities globally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday complained that the "drama" wasn't allowing the focus to be on regulations and repealing Obamacare as much as he'd hoped.

"I think we can do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda which is deregulations, tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare," he told reporters.

2481d ago / 1:53 PM UTC

Here's How the White House Will Defend Intel Disclosure

The White House outlined its planned defense against the reports on the president sharing intelligence with Russian diplomats in a memo, shared at the administration's "morning communications briefing."

Here’s the key defenses:

  • The White House will emphasize that "sources, methods, and military operations" were not jeopardized.
  • They will stress that senior cabinet and national security advisers were there, and agree conversations were “appropriate, legitimate and an important part of America’s efforts to combat the global terrorist threat."

None of this contradicts the crux of the Washington Post story, that intelligence was shared that jeopardizes a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

2481d ago / 1:21 PM UTC

Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republicans who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is out with a statement Tuesday on the Washington Post report, calling the alleged disclosure of classified info to Russian officials by President Donald Trump "very troubling."

Here's her full statement.

"The disclosure of highly classified information has the potential to jeopardize sources and to discourage our allies from sharing future information vital to our security. There are conflicting reports about whether or not President Trump disclosed sensitive information to the Russians. Although the President has the legal authority to disclose classified information, it would be very troubling if he did share such sensitive reporting with the Russians. The Senate Intelligence Committee should be briefed on this important issue immediately."