Reports: Trump revealed classified intelligence to Russian diplomats

By Mike Bambach  |  Updated May 16, 2017 at 6:15 AM
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May 15 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump revealed highly classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador during their White House meeting last week, The Washington Post reported late Monday, citing unnamed government sources.

Trump's disclosures to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak jeopardized intelligence on the Islamic State, the Post reported.

The New York Times and CNN also reported the information. The Times sourced "a current and a former government official" and CNN attributed its report to "two former officials knowledgeable of the situation."

The White House denied the reports.

"This story is false," Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy and a participant in the meeting, said in a statement to reporters Monday evening. "The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced."

Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, told reporters "at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed ... I was in the room. It did not happen."

But the unnamed government sources cited in the published reports said Trump discussed contents of the intelligence, not the sources of it or the methods used to obtain it.

The Post reported that Trump shared "code-word information" -- one of the highest classification levels -- about threats from Islamic State involving laptops aboard airliners.

The Times reported the information was provided by a Middle Eastern ally with the understanding that it would not be shared with other countries without permission. Trump's disclosure of the information could jeopardize the intelligence-sharing relationship, the sources said.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump "owes the intelligence community, the American people and Congress a full explanation."

"If true," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter, "this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Monday that Trump discussed a "broad range of subjects" with Lavrov and Kislyak.

"Among which," Tillerson said, "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."

Trump met with the Russian officials Wednesday in the wake of James B. Comey's dismissal as FBI director.

Trump fired Comey in the midst of the bureau's investigation into possible links between Trump's campaign and Russia.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump criticized Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information through her private email server, leading chants of "lock her up" at campaign rallies.

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