Commentary: Trump's disclosure of top-secret intel in meeting with Russians a major misstep for U.S.

Act could 'jeopardize a whole range of relationships,' foreign policy expert Eliot Cohen says

Seated on chairs in the Oval Office, Trump and Lavrov chat

Image caption: President Donald Trump speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Political scientist and conservative foreign policy expert Eliot Cohen called President Donald Trump's apparent sharing of top-secret intelligence derived from a foreign source with Russian officials during a White House meeting last week "appalling, beyond even this president's usual standard" in a commentary published by The Atlantic.

Eliot Cohen

Image caption: Eliot Cohen

Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., said Trump's action—first reported Monday night by The Washington Post—not only flouts the measures in place to safeguard such information, it also has the potential to "jeopardize a whole range of relationships."

More from The Atlantic:

So now everybody—even our closest allies like the United Kingdom—would be well-advised to be careful with what they share with us. That is a potential intelligence debacle for us, but the danger goes beyond that. If any foreign government harbored lingering illusions about the administration's ability to protect any information, including sensitive but non-intelligence matters like future foreign-policy initiatives or military deployments, they no longer do. They will be even more apprehensive about sharing sensitive information of any kind

Cohen adds that the recipient of the information—Russia—and the manner in which the intel was shared is especially troubling:

He apparently divulged the information to show off, which not only shows a lack of self-discipline: It shows, yet again, how easy this man is to play, particularly by veteran manipulators like his two experienced, talented, and thuggish guests.

Quite apart from making himself and the country a laughingstock around the world, the president has now practically begged Vladimir Putin to toy with him, tantalize him, tease him, flatter him, manipulate him. He has shown the Russians (and others, who are watching just as closely) just how easy that is to do, and he has shown the rest of us that his vanity and impulsiveness have not been tempered by the highest responsibilities.

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