Thanks for clearing that up
President Trump wants to assure you that he’s absolutely not guilty. … Well, at least he didn’t do that one thing. (Granted, it’s the one thing that absolutely no one has accused him of doing).
But just to be clear, he didn’t do it. Got it?
During an otherwise cordial press availability with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump made a point of repeatedly stressing that he never mentioned Israel by name while meeting with Russian officials in the White House.
“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” Trump told reporters in remarks carried by CNN. “Never mentioned it during that conversation,” he boasted. “They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”
Needless to say, mentioning Israel by name isn’t the issue people are concerned with. The larger issue—beyond the simple ethical questions of Trump freely sharing classified intelligence with Russian officials—is whether that disclosure may have jeopardized intelligence officials out in the field. It has been widely speculated that the intelligence on ISIS that Trump shared had been gathered by Israel.
Of course, by going out of his way to mention Israel, Trump just all but confirmed that he did expose Israeli intelligence gathering operations. If you watch the video closely, you can see Netanyahu literally cringe as Trump, in the words of The Washington Post national security reporter Greg Miller, “completes the intel breach he began two weeks ago.”
It will be interesting to see if Trump’s unforced error will complicate what most observers say is otherwise a surprisingly strong start to his first international trip as president. But for those who follow Trump closely, it can’t be too surprising that after managing to avoid any major embarrassments during a speech to the Muslim world, Trump immediately manages not only to potentially offend, but literally endanger, one of America’s most reliable allies in order to squeeze a little bit of defensive bragging that has little to no grounding in reality.