Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.
Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Trump blurts out classified info again, worrying Pentagon officials

The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/24/17, 9:04 PM ET

Trump blurts classified submarine intel to Philippine president

Rachel Maddow reports on the revelation that Donald Trump, while on the phone with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, revealed the classified location of U.S. submarines.
When Donald Trump chatted with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, it was unsettling enough that the American leader started their conversation with unprompted praise for Duterte’s extra-judicial killings. But we now know that Trump also decided to tell Duterte that the United States dispatched two nuclear submarines, which are off the coast of the Korean peninsula.

BuzzFeed reported that some in the Defense Department are less than pleased.
Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart reveals that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.

“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movement stealth is key to their mission.
The Atlantic’s James Fallows added that countries like China and Russia are likely to exploit the revelation, going back and calibrating their sensors accordingly for future detection.

Some may want to be charitable, cutting the amateur president some slack because he doesn’t have any background in or understanding of sensitive intelligence, but let’s not forget that this is the second time – that we know of – that Trump has been caught sharing classified information with a foreign country for no apparent reason.

The significance of a story like this goes well beyond marveling at Trump’s ineptitude. As the president develops a reputation as someone who’s recklessly blurting out secrets to foreigners, it’s easy to imagine our allies abroad withholding intelligence from U.S. officials, U.S. officials withholding intelligence from the White House, or both.

Circling back to our previous coverage, it’s also worth pausing to appreciate what Republicans used to say about this subject. Last year, for example, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for intelligence agencies to deny Clinton intelligence briefings for the rest of the campaign season. The message was straightforward: “It’s simple: Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ [with] classified info should be denied further access to it.”

The day before Ryan’s declaration, 14 Republican senators introduced legislation to revoke Clinton’s security clearance and demand that anyone in the executive branch who shows “extreme carelessness” in their handling of classified information be denied access to that information. (They no longer want to talk about the issue.)

The same day, then-RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said those who’ve mishandled classified information “have had their security clearances revoked, lost their jobs, faced fines, and even been sent to prison.” Soon after, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked, “What do I say to the marines in my district when Hillary Clinton handles classified information in a careless way yet has no ramifications?”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) argued in the fall that even the possibility of exposing sensitive intelligence to foreign adversaries is “treason.”

And then, of course, there’s Donald J. Trump, who had all kinds of things to say about this subject during his campaign, when he insisted that anyone who’s mishandled classified information should obviously be disqualified from positions of authority.

And yet, here we are.

Defense Department, Donald Trump, Intelligence and Pentagon

Trump blurts out classified info again, worrying Pentagon officials