Trump intel sharing risks damaging USA alliances

Cameron Gross
May 17, 2017

The initial Post report, quoting anonymous "current and former US officials", stated that Trump had disclosed "highly classified information" to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

On Tuesday, the New York Times revealed that Israel was the source for the classified information that President Donald Trump revealed to Russian government officials last week.

Trump tweeted that he spoke with the Russians about "terrorism and airline flight safety", but said that he had an "absolute right" to do so.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said Tuesday that what Trump did was "wholly appropriate" and "consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leader with whom he's engaged".

This same official told BuzzFeed earlier this year that Israeli intelligence agencies had major concerns about what Trump might share with Russian Federation, which is a close ally of Iran, Israel's top regional adversary.

McMaster, appearing before reporters at the White House, said the inaccurate report accusing the president of compromising American security appeared based on leaked classified information that was not discussed with Moscow officials during the May 10 Oval Office meeting.

In January, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in Israel reported that USA intelligence officials warned their Israeli counterparts that Trump's ties to Russian Federation could pose a security threat, and described a meeting between United States and Israeli intelligence officials in which the Americans indicated to Israel they should be cautious in sharing information with Trump's White House.

"At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly", he said at the time. Yet he suggested that the president didn't know what he was doing because Trump hadn't been briefed enough about the source of the intelligence to understand the sensitivity behind it.

A senior European intelligence official told the Associated Press his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms that Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.

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The idea that Trump could share information gleaned in those conversations with countries that are not friendly to the United States could chill some of these interactions and make world leaders question what they share with Trump.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the details of the memo.

During those conversations, Trump also disclosed the city in ISIS-held Syria from which that intelligence emanated, McMaster confirmed.

"Even if President Trump unwittingly blew a highly classified code-word source to the Russians, that would be risky enough". It's unclear whether the USA informed the Israelis it might share the information with the Russians, who have different allies in the region - notably Iran.

Legal experts, along with the White House, said that in his position as president, Mr Trump had it in his executive powers to declassify material, and to share it, in a way that would represent a breach of the law if it was done by anyone else.

On Monday, the White House and Russia's foreign ministry denied any classified information was revealed.

The intelligence Trump reportedly shared with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov concerned the so-called Islamic State's internal operations. The Post wrote that Trump "seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat", which officials said was related to the use of laptops on commercial aircraft.

The New York Times said that during the Oval Office meeting, Trump condemned a series of government leaks to the news media and said the Federal Bureau of Investigation director should consider prosecuting reporters for publishing classified information.

"I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda", he told Bloomberg Business. Such sharing "could be a risk for our sources", the official said. He's questioned the competence of intelligence officials, challenged their assessment that Russian Federation meddled in last year's election to help him win, and accused them of leaking information about him and his associates.

Other reports by BadHub

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