The Edition
facebook icon twitter icon instagram icon linkedin icon


Trump's history of playing loose with intelligence

Paul Handley
13 August 2022, MVT 11:55
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 24, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he makes his way to board Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. - Donald Trump looks set to be deposed August 10, 2022 in New York as part of the state attorney general's civil probe into alleged fraud at his family business, the ex-president said on his social media network. -- Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP
Paul Handley
13 August 2022, MVT 11:55

Court documents unsealed Friday showed that FBI agents retrieved a number of highly classified documents in a raid on ex-President Donald Trump's Florida home.

The raid was just the most recent episode in which the former US leader was accused of playing loose with and abusing classified information.

Iranian missile site

As president, Trump had the power to unilaterally declassify information. But some of his actions stunned the US intelligence community nonetheless.

On August 30, 2019 he tweeted what was believed to be a classified high-resolution image of an Iranian rocket launch site.

"The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir [Space Launch Vehicle] Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran," Trump tweeted.

Israeli intelligence

On May 10, 2017 Trump met Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the White House Oval Office.

In the meeting, Trump told the two Russians about intelligence the United States had received from a Middle East ally about an Islamic State plot.

The highly classified intelligence, it turned out, came from Israel, which was upset by the disclosure, according to media reports.

Location of nuclear subs

In April 2017 Trump told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that two US nuclear submarines were off the coast of North Korea, boasting of "a lot of firepower," according to a Philippines transcript of their call.

The Pentagon only very rarely discloses the location of its submarines, which are crucial to the US strategic defense force.

Secret nuclear weapons

In a 2019 interview Trump told writer Bob Woodward about an unknown US nuclear capability that may have been a specious boast, or divulged highly secret information.

"I have built a nuclear, a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before," Trump told Woodward.

"We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before," he added.

Details of Special Forces raid

After a US operation killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria in October 2019, Trump, boasting of the attack, revealed numerous details that the Pentagon would normally withhold, like how many helicopters were involved, how the commandos entered the residence, and that the US had intelligence from Islamic State use of phones and the internet.

The information "could contribute to a reverse engineering of our intelligence methods by the adversary," former special operations commander Michael Nagata told Politico.

Secrecy with Putin

Trump also withheld intelligence from his spy chiefs. In July 2018 Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, was visibly surprised at the Aspen Security Forum when the host told him the White House had tweeted that Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited to visit Washington.

"Say that again?" Coats said.

Coats also said he was in the dark about what Trump discussed in a two-hour, one-on-one meeting with the wily Russian leader three days earlier.

"I don't know what happened in that meeting," Coats said.

© Agence France-Presse

Share this story