During a campaign rally Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads a statement made by Michelle Fields, on March 29, 2016 in Janesville, Wis.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

On classified docs, Trump values TV personalities over security officials

Donald Trump seems excited about the sensitive materials from the investigation into the Russia scandal that he’s decided to declassify. In fact, the president has already boasted about all of the things the documents will prove, including his claims that the entire controversy is a “hoax.”

Among the many problems with this move is the fact that Trump apparently hasn’t read the materials he’s decided to declassify. He admitted as much in an interview with The Hill published yesterday.

THE HILL: Have you reviewed the memos yourself? What do you expect them to show, if so?

TRUMP: I have not reviewed them. I have been asked by many people in Congress as you know to release them. I have watched commentators that I respect begging the president of the United States to release them…. I have been asked by so many people that I respect, please – the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful, great Jeanine Pirro.

This is almost certainly more damning that the president realizes. It’s problematic, for example, that the president couldn’t pry himself away from the television long enough to read the classified documents he’s eager to share with the world.

But nearly as important was his use of the phrase “so many people that I respect.” We’re talking about a dynamic in which national security officials in the Trump administration have urged the president not to declassify these materials, warning him that disclosure could be dangerous to the United States. On the other hand, Trump has also heard from television personalities who’ve offered the opposite advice.

The people the president “respects” are the ones he sees on TV, not the officials whose job it is to keep the nation safe.

Compounding the problem, the “commentators” from conservative media and Trump are in the same uninformed boat: none of them have read the sensitive materials. Hannity, Dobbs, and Pirro lack the necessary security clearance, while Trump lacks the necessary curiosity.

The national security officials who’ve warned the president have read the materials, but they’re the ones Trump doesn’t respect enough to listen to.

This isn’t likely to turn out well.