Trump reportedly leaked classified information to Russian delegation; White House denies

UPDATE 3 — 5/17, 9:21 a.m. EDT: At a news conference in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin intimated no confidential intelligence on the Islamic State was passed on to Russian officials from Donald Trump at a White House meeting last week and said he would be willing to release a transcript of the conversation to Congress, if requested.

“What surprises me is that (the American media is) shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans,” he commented. “Either they don’t understand the damage they’re doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt.”

 

UPDATE 2 — 2:48 p.m. EDT: The New York Times is reporting former and current officials have indicated the source of U.S. intelligence on ISIS President Trump gave to the Russian envoy last week was the state of Israel.

Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said Jerusalem would continue collaborating with the American government on counter-terrorism efforts, but state officials there would not confirm Israel was the source of Trump’s divulged information.

 

UPDATE — 12:35 p.m. EDT: Speaking to the White House press corps Tuesday, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster asserted that intelligence President Trump gave the Russians last week at a White House meeting was “wholly appropriate.” 

McMaster also said the president was ignorant about the source of information he relayed to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. The source is reportedly a Middle Eastern country which shared secret information about ISIS with the U.S.

 

Citing anonymous sources, the Washington Post published a story Monday alleging President Trump revealed “highly-classified” intelligence information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a meeting held last week at the White House.

According to the Post, as Trump hosted Russian envoys, he disclosed information gathered by a foreign power, which was shared with the US.

The Post‘s story also asserts the president shared details of an alleged Islamic State (ISIS) plot, the harm the attack would cause and the specific region in which ISIS intends on carrying out the attack. Trump did not reveal, the Post admits, the methods of intelligence gathering.

Following the report, three members of Trump’s national security team issued statements refuting the claim the president shared classified information.

Flatly denying the story, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell said: “This story is false.  The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Following Powell’s remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed Powell, telling reporters:

“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.  During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who was also present in the meeting with Russian envoys, appeared at the White House, also sharply denying the Post‘s story.

McMaster concluded his remarks declaring as a witness to what transpired, said his account of the meeting should “outweigh anonymous sources”, and left without taking questions.

Despite relentless denial on the part of administration officials, congressional members on both sides of the aisle expressed concern about the Post’s revelation, if true.

“The shame of it is there’s a really good national security team in place and there are good, productive things that are under way through them and through others,” said Senate Foreign Relation Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline — it’s creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment.”

Trump tweeted the following response on Tuesday morning:

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

 

[Washington Post] [AP] [The Hill] [NPR] [Reuters via Yahoo] [NTK Network/YouTube] [Photo courtesy Russian Foreign Ministry via Sputnik]

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