George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Pence's reaction could be key to possible sharing of classified info with Russians, political scientist says

Tue, 05/16/2017

LAWRENCE —  Though details are still emerging, the fallout remains unclear after the Washington Post's reporting Monday that President Donald Trump shared information in the Oval Office with Russian diplomats about a potential Islamic State plot involving laptops on aircraft.

Administration officials maintained that Trump did not discuss intelligence sources or methods, though critics have said the disclosure could have identified and compromised an ally with access to inner workings of the Islamic State.

A University of Kansas researcher who studies terrorism, extremist groups and American politics said while the story is still developing, it could have international implications for U.S. intelligence agencies and political ones in Washington, especially a week after Trump fired FBI director James Comey during an ongoing bureau investigation of the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia.

"The countries that share intelligence with us may have second thoughts about whether to share intelligence in the future," said Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the KU Department of Political Science. "We may never know for sure how severe this situation is, but just the implication that it could happen means that our partners will second guess future intelligence sharing with us."

Haider-Markel said despite some difficulties since taking office in January, polling has shown Trump hasn't lost much support among his base and core supporters. However, the reaction of Vice President Mike Pence could be important to note if it becomes a major scandal.

"Unless Trump's poll numbers really start to go down among Republicans, which hasn't happened even with other events so far, I don't think members of Congress will actually turn against him," he said. "I would watch Pence and see if his language begins to change or if he increases contact with members of Congress."

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