Remember when Donald Trump spent the entire campaign incorrectly insisting that Hillary Clinton had knowingly sent classified information over private email, and asserting that she should go to prison for it? It turns out Trump does not believe that those rules apply to himself. When he went on a Twitter bender before dawn on Saturday, falsely accusing President Obama of having wiretapped Trump Tower before the election, it appears Trump leaked classified information in the process.
Donald Trump is obviously incorrect in his assertion that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, because Presidents can’t wiretap United States citizens; there’s no mechanism for that to happen. But as we reported earlier today, Trump appears to be referring to a FISA warrant which a federal judge granted to the FBI in secret court in October. This warrant appears to have given the FBI authority to eavesdrop on Trump and his associates and Trump Tower itself. The mere existence of such a warrant would have been considered classified information.
Although an FBI source leaked the existence of the warrant to Heat Street last year, which reported it on November 7th, that reporting failed to become a mainstream story at the time. In any case Trump didn’t know that word of the FISA warrant against him had leaked to the media. So when he tweeted about it this morning, he was leaking classified information which to the best of his knowledge was still secret from the public.
To be clear, the president has the authority to declassify any information at any time. But the law says he must formally do so through an executive order. He cannot simply blurt out classified info on a whim. So unless Trump signed an executive order this morning before he launched his tweet storm, he knowingly and illegally leaked classified information to the public. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report