Why Trump probably won't get in trouble for telling Russia highly classified information

Shortly after The Washington Post broke the news that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador, one question immediately arose:

Can Trump get in trouble for this?

The most likely answer is no.

That’s because in the United States, the system of classifying information has no legal basis. The government’s authority to classify material comes from executive orders enacted by the president — Barack Obama signed the most recent one in 2009.

As commander in chief, Trump gets the final say on how sensitive information gets disseminated, no matter how classified. So while any other US government official would face serious repercussions for sharing classified intelligence with a political adversary, the president is within his legal right to do so.

There are exceptions to this presidential privilege — for example, he can’t share certain information about nuclear weapons.

But in this case, it doesn’t appear Trump broke the law, and any consequences he faces will be likely be only of the political variety.

Trump and his Republican allies have in the past criticised Hillary Clinton — Trump’s one-time presidential election rival — for her handling of classified information amid an FBI investigation into her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.

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