02/14/2017 (Tue) 19:18:20
All presidents have wide latitude when it comes to how they and their staff handle communications, including sensitive materials, and some long-time security experts say Trump’s recent stumbles are gaining more attention only because of who’s responsible for them.
“These same things happen with every president, but we probably notice them more because he’s a different kind of guy,” said Bill Pickle, a former deputy assistant director of the Secret Service who also served as Senate sergeant-at-arms.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump was briefed on the North Korea incident in a secure location at Mar-a-Lago before and after his brief news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The only thing discussed during the dinner — in public view of the dinner guests — was the logistics for the news conference, she said.
Still, experts say foreign intelligence services are scrutinizing every clip and photo for possible insight into the inner workings of the U.S. government. That would include a 27-second video that White House social media director Dan Scavino posted to Twitter on Saturday night that features Trump’s entourage, including the military officer carrying the nuclear codes.
Or the photograph of Trump last week at his Oval Office desk.
Wackrow said both items could provide foreign intelligence officials with useful clues as they try to decipher longer-term patterns for the new and seemingly unpredictable president.
“As much scrutiny as you’re giving those videos, foreign intelligence is doing the exact same thing just to gain a little bit of understanding of this administration,” he said.
The deviations from standard protocol have Democrats particularly livid after Hillary Clinton’s email practices played a role in undermining her campaign — and were a subject of ongoing inquiry by the FBI. Trump himself continually ripped Clinton over her email arrangement, claiming it was criminal, disqualifying for the presidency and likely exposed state secrets to foreign hackers.
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