The president has the constitutional authority to classify and declassify secrets. President Trump could allow the Justice Department to negotiate with the House over release of the Nunes memo, so as to protect intelligence sources and methods. An agreement could also provide the starting point for review and restructuring of the department’s national security division and its management of electronic surveillance.
But again, the president seems unable to allow good government to proceed freely. Instead, he has claimed for months that the Obama administration hatched a conspiracy to illegally eavesdrop on him and, according to reports, has decided to approve release of the Nunes memo even before reviewing it. Again, Mr. Trump risks the prospects for departmental reform to score political points against Mr. Obama.
These episodes reveal a shortcoming in Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency. He has the constitutional power to push out Mr. McCabe and to release the Nunes memo. Yet doing so is a serious political misuse of that power.