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16 May 2017

Donald Trump’s intelligence leaks show Republicans won’t put the brakes on his chaotic presidency

The idea that the US president would "govern like a moderate" is deader than disco.

By Stephen Bush

Spying’s not what it used to be. In the old days you had to use wiretaps, honeytraps, and god knows what else. Now you just have to let Donald Trump brag a little bit.

At least, according to current and former US officials, who have told the Washington Post that the President revealed codeword-level intelligence to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister at  a meeting in the White House. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the President is said to have bragged, before sharing details on the Islamic State, obtained with the help of one of the United States’ security partners. Another official, speaking to BuzzFeed, says that the story is “far worse” than what has already been reported.

As Trump is President, he can declassify intelligence as and when he sees fit, and in any case the administration has denied the claims. As Politico’s eye-popping account of life inside the Trump White House shows, it’s merely the latest example of the chaos and impulsive behaviour of the Commander-in-Chief.

It’s a reminder of two things. Firstly that the idea that Donald Trump would “govern like a moderate” is deader than disco. The difficulty is that Trump doesn’t “govern like” anything – he just reacts in unpredictable and irrational ways.

The second is the idea that the so-called “moderate Republicans” would act as a brake upon Trump. In practice, that’s meant that a few Senators in blue states have made concerned noises before falling in line, even as Trump’s own unpopularity puts many Republican legislators in danger of losing their jobs in 2018.  Opposition to the Democrats, fear of being defeated in the primaries, and the need to have a Republican in the White House signing Paul Ryan’s laws are all reasons for Republican support for Trump. But they all add up to one conclusion: the best-case scenario, despite everything, is that Trump will remain President until 2020, and the only plausible control on what he’ll do is a Democratic victory in the midterm elections in 2018.

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