What Israel Makes of Trump’s Intel Gaffe

Back in January, there were reports that American intelligence officials had warned their Israeli counterparts of the risk that Mr. Trump might pass on their intelligence to the Russians. Since that warning has apparently been vindicated, the strategic ramifications both for the United States and for Israel are far-reaching.

.. Israel and Russia do not by any means agree on all Syria-related issues, and here, Israel may soon need Mr. Trump’s good offices in Moscow. Russia, in alliance with Iran, has rescued the Assad regime from likely defeat at the hands of a variety of Syrian rebels. One outcome of this may well be the establishment of not only Russian but possibly also Iranian bases in Syria. Iran is an existential enemy of Israel.

.. This month, for example, Russia informed Israel that it had agreed with Iran and Turkey to set up a safe zone, or no-fly zone, in southwestern Syria, near the Israeli border of the Golan Heights. It is possible that Moscow will entrust the task of delineating and patrolling this zone to Iranian forces. That would radically increase the risk of hostilities breaking out between Israel and Iran in this Syrian border area.

.. Mr. Netanyahu will want to recruit Mr. Trump to persuade Russia to keep Iranian militias far from the Golan border.

.. provides Mr. Netanyahu with a little extra leverage in his dealings with Mr. Trump

.. there is a strong sense here that Mr. Trump is likely to spring a surprise on Israel involving an effort to restart the peace process.

.. does that mean he now owes Israel a favor that Mr. Netanyahu can call in?

H.R. McMaster Issues Misleading Denial About Trump’s Disclosure to Russians

It didn’t take long to stress-test the putative denial and see what it didn’t say. The caveat “as reported” left McMaster space to quibble with the details of the story without contradicting the big picture. Meanwhile, his statement that Trump never discussed sources or methods or unknown military operations was beside the point, since the Post hadn’t said he did. McMaster was denying a story that didn’t exist.

Post reporter Greg Miller went on CNN, where he accused the White House of “playing word games.”

American Institutions Strike Back

He was too incompetent to understand his own health care bill, or accurately describe the direction in which the “armada” designed to intimidate North Korea was heading, or restrain himself from disclosing highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. But he’s also too incompetent, it appears, to destroy liberal democracy.

.. Rather than building a high-minded pretext for firing Comey, Trump, according to the New York Times, invited Comey to dinner in January and demanded his personal loyalty. If that wasn’t incriminating enough, in February he baldly asked Comey to end the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Then, after Comey asked for more funding to investigate the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, Trump fired him

.. it’s harder to mount a populist assault on the rule of law when you’re not even that popular.