The pattern has become clear: A foreign official comes to President Trump. They speak. The official leaves with what he or she wants, and Trump emerges chastened, having reversed a major policy, or both.
A Washington Post report Monday night revealed the latest and most embarrassing of the incidents. During an Oval Office meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S., Trump reportedly revealed classified information about an ISIS terror plot that was so sensitive that the U.S. did not share it even with its closest allies. The story has since been confirmed by multiple outlets, and while the White House has pushed back, it hasn’t disputed any specifics of the story. While the president is legally entitled to disclose that information, the slip could jeopardize cooperation with allies, and it makes a hypocrite of Trump, who repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival for president, for far more minor mishandling of classified info.
It is a huge win for Russia, which has sought to sow chaos in American democracy and to separate the United States from its allies. Moreover, the information was reportedly freely given, as Trump boasted about the intelligence and briefings he receives.
Perhaps, as top intelligence officials have said of Russian interference in the election, the Kremlin is stunned at how successful the meeting turned out to be for them. But Lavrov and Kislyak had also carefully put themselves in a position to take advantage of good luck. As my colleague Julia Ioffe reported, and Politico’s Susan Glasser confirmed, the Russians had been pressing hard for an in-person meeting with Trump, “a man who is now known for starkly reversing his positions if exposed to in-person pleasantries.”