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.

Reaction to report that Trump gave classified info to Russian officials
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Reaction to report that Trump gave classified info to Russian officials
Protip: Don’t give the Russians classified information. #Classified101
Protecting our national security is one of the most important tasks a president has, and Trump is failing at it. https://t.co/3hr9htzmZ2
Next time somebody says revealing unconstitutional mass surveillance to the press crossed a line, show them this: https://t.co/Ofr0WRVuso
Shocking actions for any American President but sadly unsurprising coming from President Trump. https://t.co/yPgycqLyda
NEW: Statement from @SpeakerRyan came. “We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation's secrets is paramount." (1/2)
THIS: .@SpeakerRyan statement on WaPo story (2/2): "The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration."
If true, deeply disturbing... https://t.co/gHc10i1pWv
@benjaminwittes @BlogsofWar An eloquent friend who has served at high levels just said to me, "For the first time i… https://t.co/68MjJgaHfi
This was a joke when I tweeted it. Turned out to be real. https://t.co/hD6oP6762z
This is unacceptable, completely unacceptable... https://t.co/9cEmnhH6eY
If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly… https://t.co/pheWzFNv4a
All 3 statements sent via @PressSec: Tillerson, McMaster & Powell 👇👇 https://t.co/FUa2RNglG3
In 2011, Republican senators added amendment No. 1310 to NDAA to bar sharing classified info on MD with Russians. Will they speak out now?
Pelosi: Trump has "jeopardized the security of the American people." https://t.co/PEFBf2dxWQ
If the Washington Post report is true, it is very disturbing. Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous.
Report that Trump shared highly classified intelligence with Russians is deeply disturbing. House Intel needs to be… https://t.co/3nrwNg9vyk

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 criticized 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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SEE ALSO: Trump reportedly revealed highly classified information to the Russians last week that the US hasn't even 'shared with our own allies'

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