Fox News' Tucker Carlson asked Donald Trump last night about his wiretap conspiracy theory, which his Republican allies are quickly running away from, and the host specifically pressed the president on a specific point: "Every intelligence agency reports to you. Why not immediately go to them and gather evidence to support that?"Trump responded, "Because I don't want to do anything that's going to violate any strength of an agency. We have enough problems."I honestly haven't the foggiest idea what this was supposed to mean. The president, for whatever reason, came to believe he was the target of illegal surveillance, and he could've asked officials in his administration to provide him with information about his concerns. He didn't, however, because it would've "violated" the "strength" of an intelligence agency? Since when do factual questions from a president to intelligence professionals undermine government agencies?Trump quickly added:
"And by the way, with the CIA, I just want people to know, the CIA was hacked, and a lot of things taken -- that was during the Obama years. That was not during us. That was during the Obama situation."
This was an apparent reference to reports, which surfaced earlier this month, that WikiLeaks released thousands of pages of documents that were apparently obtained as part of a hack of the Central Intelligence Agency.At the time, however, the agency wouldn't even confirm the authenticity of the materials, and a CIA spokesperson told reporters, "We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents."All of which suggests Trump, responding to a question he was not asked, may have blurted out something important on national television. Indeed, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, noted in a statement, "In his effort to once again blame Obama, the president appears to have discussed something that, if true and accurate, would otherwise be considered classified information."Schiff added, "It would be one thing if the president's statement were the product of intelligence community discussion and a purposeful decision to disclose information to the public, but that is unlikely to be the case. The president has the power to declassify whatever he wants, but this should be done as the product of thoughtful consideration and with intense input from any agency affected. For anyone else to do what the president may have done, would constitute what he deplores as 'leaks.'"One month ago today, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. intelligence officials "have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised."The article added there have been instances in which intelligence officials have withheld select information when "secrecy is essential for protecting a source," but these latest developments are different. In those previous instances, "the decision wasn't motivated by a concern about a president's trustworthiness or discretion."A month later, those fears appear well justified.