Trump says he didn't tell Russia he got intelligence from Israel

By Allen Cone
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump meet in Jerusalem on Monday. Photo by Menahem Kahana/UPI
1 of 5 | Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and U.S. President Donald Trump meet in Jerusalem on Monday. Photo by Menahem Kahana/UPI | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- During a press conference Monday in Jerusalem, President Donald Trump said he never mentioned Israel as the source of intelligence about the Islamic State he shared in a meeting with Russia.

"Folks, folks, just so you understand, just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel during that conversation" with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House, Trump told media in Jerusalem.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "intelligence cooperation is terrific."

The two leaders commented in response to reporters' questions about intelligence Trump shared with the Russians during a meeting May 10. They spoke during press availability before a dinner at the prime minister's residence on the first day of the president's trip to Israel.


The Washington Post on May 15 reported that Trump told his Russian visitors about sensitive information that had been provided to the U.S. government through an intelligence partnership. Trump didn't specifically say where the information came from within Syria, but it was obvious enough the Russians could figure out the source, The Post said.

The next day, The New York Times reported the United States got the information form Israel, according to a current and a former U.S. official familiar with how the United States obtained the information.

"They're all saying I did, so you have another story wrong," Trump said Monday.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that there will be no apology to Israel.

"I don't know that there's anything to apologize for," Tillerson said en route to Tel Aviv from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, aboard Air Force One. "To the extent the Israelis have any questions, or clarification, I'm sure we're happy to provide that."

Trump's trip from Riyadh to Tel Aviv is believed to be the first open, direct flight to Israel from Saudi Arabia, which doesn't have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.


"In this land so rich in history, Israel has built one of the world's greatest civilizations, a strong, resilient determined prosperous nation, forged in the commitment that will never allow horrors of last century to be repeated," Trump said during a welcoming ceremony.

Trump met various officials during a receiving line at the airport.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace," Trump said during an arrival ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv before flying by helicopter to Jerusalem. "But we can only get there working together. There is no other way."

He was greeted warmly by Netanyahu, who said he "shares the commitment to peace" with Trump.

"Israel's hand is extended in peace to all our neighbors, including the Palestinians," he said. "The peace we seek is a genuine and durable one, in which the Israeli state is recognized, security remains in Israel's hands and the conflict ends once and for all."

Trump met with Reuven Rivlin, who holds the largely ceremonial position of president of Israel.


"There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran, and it is indeed a threat, there's no question about that," Trump said.

After meeting with Rivlin, Trump visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed to be the tomb of Jesus Christ.

He then became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall, the holiest site for Jewish prayer. Wearing the traditional skullcap, Trump placed his right hand on the wall and swayed slightly back and forth with his eyes closed for almost a minute. He pulled out a note from his jacket pocket and placed it into a crack in the wall.

He was joined by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich. Trump said the visit to the wall "will leave an impression on me forever."

First lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, prayed at the portion reserved for women.

Later during a joint statement at the prime minister's residence, Trump and Netanyahu vowed to deal with the threat of Iran and seek peace in the region, including the Palestinians.


"I wanted you to know how much we appreciate the American change in policy on Iran," Netanyahu said. "We can hold back Iran's march in this region and thwart Iran's unbridled ambition."

The prime minister also thanked Trump for "your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East."

Regarding peace, Trump said the prime minister is "working very hard at it. It's not easy ... America stands ready to assist in every way we can."

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to travel a short distance to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Trump then is scheduled to return to Jerusalem to lay a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance center, and then deliver a speech at the Israel Museum.

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