"Anonymous sources" now more credible than the White House

National Security Sharer H.R. McMaster's overnight flip from denying the Washington Post story about Comrade President sharing classified data with the Russians during his job interview last week, to calling this blunder critical for national security is par for course.

It is now far easier to trust just about anyone other than the White House.

Slate tears into the logic of trusting the White House:

The Post’s sources have made factual allegations that can be checked. The administration hasn’t. Contrast this record with the administration’s response. The White House has released three statements. McMaster says the Post story, “as reported, is false,” but he doesn’t debunk any specific claim in the story. He says “it didn’t happen,” but he doesn’t say what “it” is. The empirical claims he makes—for example, that “at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed”—are compatible with the Post report, which alleges not that sources and methods were explicitly discussed, but that they were inadvertently exposed by Trump’s disclosures.

The other two statements released by the White House are equally hollow. Dina Powell, the White House deputy national security adviser, says: “This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.” Again, the factual claim fits the Post story, and the denial is too vague to check. A third statement, issued by Tillerson, doesn’t even say the Post story is false. It just says the people in the meeting “did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

To be fair, that last claim by Tillerson is falsifiable. Indeed, it seems false. According to McMaster, Trump “did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.” It’s hard to imagine why McMaster would add the caveat about “not already publicly known” unless Trump had, contra Tillerson, discussed military operations.

On Tuesday morning, Trump himself weighed in. “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” he tweeted. Trump’s tweets, like his subordinates’ statements, didn’t challenge the Post’s reporting.

A few hours later, at a White House briefing, reporters asked McMaster what elements of the Post story were false. He ducked the question, instead disputing what he called the story’s “premise”: that what Trump had said in the meeting was “inappropriate.” He was then asked about four claims in the story: that Trump had shared classified information, that he had revealed the city where the crucial intelligence was obtained, that the information he shared came from a U.S. intelligence partner, and that Bossert had subsequently contacted the CIA and NSA. McMaster disputed none of these allegations.

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