The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Andrew Napolitano ArchiveBlogview
Donald Trump's Seven Days in May

In a period of seven days this month, President Donald Trump fired James Comey as director of the FBI and was accused of sharing top-secret intelligence data with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States, the latter a known Russian spy.

The Comey firing was clumsy and rude. Comey learned of it from FBI agents in Los Angeles who noticed reports of it on television monitors that they could see while he was speaking to them. The White House initially claimed Comey had been fired because of his poor judgment in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, in which he announced that she would not be indicted even though there was ample evidence to indict her and then reopened the case two weeks before Election Day even though there was no evidence to justify doing so.

Then the president said he had fired Comey because he objected to Comey’s public personality. Then the president claimed that though Comey had told him he was not the subject of any FBI investigation, Comey had not been investigating Trump administration intelligence community leaks with the same vigor with which he had been investigating allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

Then Trump met with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. Then someone who was at the meeting or privy to it afterward, American or Russian, revealed to The Washington Post that at the meeting, Trump had boasted of intelligence data related to the Islamic State group. Then Trump himself admitted sharing this intelligence with the Russians.

A leak of top-secret material by the president or by an anonymous source is potentially catastrophic, and the charge that the president himself revealed top secrets to a known Russian spy is grave, perhaps the gravest ever leveled at an American president in the modern era. The Americans and the Russians at the meeting with Trump denied that he had compromised intelligence sources or revealed the location of American military, but they did not deny that he had revealed top secrets.
All of these events took place in seven days. Here is the back story.

When Comey usurped the authority of the ethically challenged then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and announced that Hillary Clinton would not be indicted for espionage — the failure to safeguard state secrets that had been given to her for safekeeping — even though there was a mountain of evidence of her guilt, it seemed to me that he was trying to have it both ways. He was trying to keep his job by pleasing both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, he grossly miscalculated and substantially irritated leadership in both parties, including Clinton and Trump.

At the same time he was exonerating Clinton legally while damning her politically, he was investigating the Trump campaign, about which he quite properly did not say a public word. And he authorized his agents to engage a former British intelligence agent to dig up dirt on candidate Trump and to pay him $50,000 for it. The story the agent dug up was so lurid and unbelievable that the FBI declined to make the payment.

Comey’s leadership of the FBI was flawed, but not so flawed as the reasons given for his summary firing. Those inconsistent reasons fed the Democrats’ narrative that Comey had been onto something in the Russia/Trump campaign investigation and the president had known it and wanted to derail it. The president has yet to deny this.

Though the president has complained that Comey failed to investigate leaks of intelligence data from within his administration, The Washington Post effectively accused the president himself of becoming the leaker in chief by revealing to the Russians information so secret that only a handful of Americans legally possessed it. That information consisted of the name of a city in Syria from which spies had reported that the Islamic State group was plotting to plant bombs on commercial airliners.

What is so secret about that? Intelligence data almost always requires reading between the lines. Doing so here reveals the country from which the intelligence came, as there is only one friendly country that has sufficient intelligence resources in that city to develop local human spies. That country, which the president did not name but which we know is Israel, at first threatened to cut off providing intelligence data to the U.S. because of the president’s private revelations but later said that all is forgiven. So, the president told the Russians where to find Israeli spies in Syria.

The fact that these revelations were private is of legal significance. Under federal law, the president can declassify any secrets, even the most highly sensitive and guarded ones. He can do so by whispering the secret into someone’s ear or by formally removing the secret from its classified status. But because he did not do the latter, the secret is still a secret — yet The Washington Post has this material and may now legally reveal it.

How can a newspaper reveal a top secret that the president has not made public? If someone reveals the secret to the newspaper, it can. The person who did so in this case committed a felony, and the president is right to be angered over it. That person is probably a member of the intelligence community bent on frustrating or destabilizing or controlling the Trump presidency. Because that person gave it to the Post and because there is enormous public interest in knowing what Trump told the Russians, the Post is free to publish it.

ORDER IT NOW

All of this demonstrates that rogue intelligence agents can engage in their own form of agitprop — agitation propaganda. And they can cause political harm with it. Yet the questions of whether Donald Trump revealed top secrets to the Russians and, if he did so, whether it was intentional or not and whether it was harmful to national security are questions to which we are entitled to answers. And was Jim Comey fired for getting too close to the truth or not close enough?
Why do these questions keep coming?

Copyright 2017 Andrew P. Napolitano. Distributed by Creators.com.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Israel, Russia 
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
[]
  1. Why do these questions keep coming in the face of the need to start governing a country?

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
    AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
    These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
    Sharing Comment via Twitter
    http://www.unz.com/anapolitano/donald-trumps-seven-days-in-may/#comment-1876093
    More... This Commenter Display All Comments
  2. In a righteous world the headlines would read “TRUMP OUTED ISRAELI SPIES IN SYRIA”.

    We should be out in the streets celebrating. This is BIG!!!

    Read More
  3. Rogue intelligence agents is the problem and in particular one General Michael Flynn. This bum personifies what Colonel David Hackworth once described as the ‘perfumed princes’ of the Pentagon. When forced from his position as head of Military Intelligences Flynn found that the perks and lifestyle of an active duty Lieutenant General were not so easily afforded on a officers pension so he became a Beltway Bandit and tried to cash in on his high military rank.

    In 2015 he shows up in Moscow for a paid engagement with Russia Today and is seated with Vladimir Putin at a dinner. He hires himself out to a Turkish business group and reverses his prior criticisms of Turkish ‘president’ Erdogan, When Trump improbably wins the US presidency this self admitted liar jumps on the bandwagon and has caused no end of problems since.

    To Trump’s credit he didn’t throw this creep under the bus at first opportunity but actually tried to help him out of his legal difficulties after, once again, Flynn was forced to resign from another post. That Flynn was oblivious to how his enemies in the intelligence community would react to his avarice and self promotion make me question if he had any judgement at all.

    Read More
  4. I hope they’ve had the Oval Office swept for bugs since all of this broke. Israel has certainly acted as if they were listening in on the meeting.

    Read More
  5. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    That country, which the president did not name but which we know is Israel, at first threatened to cut off providing intelligence data to the U.S. because of the president’s private revelations but later said that all is forgiven.

    How is it that Israel is able to get so close to ISIS?

    Is it working with ISIS against Assad?

    Is it playing both sides? Teaching ISIS how to make bombs but also feeding ISIS data to the US?

    Why doesn’t anyone ask that?

    Read More
  6. The USA and Russia should be exchanging sensitive and classified and secret information regularly — to coordinate their efforts to destroy ISIS and any other Islamist group they can target together.

    Any federal employee who revealed the private, secret conversation between our President and a foreign ambassador or official, should be prosecuted and imprisoned.

    Read More
  7. Some good points except:

    “A leak of top-secret material by the president or by an anonymous source is potentially catastrophic, and the charge that the president himself revealed top secrets to a known Russian spy is grave, perhaps the gravest ever leveled at an American president in the modern era.”

    IT WASN’T A LEAK! That is neocon spin. A President cannot “leak” information. If he reveals something, that means he chose to declassify it on the spot. He doesn’t need permission from an unelected bureaucrat in DC to discuss things with anyone. If you disagree, then what person must Trump ask for permission anytime he wishes to discuss national security? Some unknown jackass in the basement of Langley?

    The same happened when some of his picks were denied posts at places like the NSA when unnamed bureaucrats deemed them unworthy and refused to grant them security clearances. Trump should have fired whoever went public with that BS. If they have concerns, they meet with the White House and discuss them, then Trump decides if they still get the post, or Trump’s team announces that he has withdrawn the offer.

    Read More
  8. Really: …… FBI agents in Los Angeles who noticed reports of it on television monitors that they could see while he was speaking to them……
    Really? Who attends a meeting with your top, top CEO, and watches TV at the same time ?

    Read More
  9. Apparently, “Judge” Napolitano can’t differentiate gas lighting from reality.

    Read More
Current Commenter says:

Leave a Reply -


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Andrew Napolitano Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.