Trump shared secret info about IS with Russians


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shake hands in the Treaty Room before heading into meetings at the State Department May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation during their meeting last week, two US officials with knowledge of the situation said on Monday. "At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed".

Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State's territory where the US intelligence partner detected the threat.

The anonymous officials told the Post that the information Trump relayed during the Oval Office meeting had been provided by a USA partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement.

The claim that Trump shared the critical data "obtained by the USA via a highly sensitive intelligence sharing arrangement" caused anger among US lawmakers, with Democratic Chris Murphy calling it a "very disturbing trend of careless behaviour by this administration".

"The story that came out tonight as reported is false", National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in a press briefing.

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation", said McMaster, who was in the meeting.

"And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known", McMaster said. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. The spokesman said that if he received anything from Rep. Buck that he would provide a statement.

The Post story - which was later confirmed by The New York Times and BuzzFeed News - does not claim that Trump revealed any specific information about how the intelligence was gathered.

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The Wednesday meeting between Trump, Lavrov and Kislyak had already raised alarm bells in Washington, primarily because it came one day after Trump made a decision to fire FBI Director James Comey while the bureau investigated his campaign's alleged ties to Russian Federation.

Even before he was inaugurated, intelligence professionals anxious about sharing classified information with Trump, who often shoots from the hip. A day before the meeting with the Russians, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the bureau's investigation into possible collusion between Russian state actors and the Trump campaign. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was sacked after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with Kisylak.

What congressional Republicans are clearly battling is their own built-in gauge of political risk and the fact that Trump survived crises during the 2016 campaign that would have ended nearly any other political campaign. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets.

On Monday, one of the officials said the intelligence discussed by Trump in the meeting with Lavrov was classified "Top Secret" and held in a secure "compartment" to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access.

"I think that the White House is playing word games", Greg Miller said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront".

The CIA has declined to comment. Comey's ousting raised alarm among congressional Democrats and some Republicans and drew comparisons to Watergate-era political tactics.

Greg Miller, one of The Post reporters who broke the story, told NPR's Ari Shapiro on All Things Considered that by sharing the information from another country, it could damage future intelligence gathering and US relations with other partners.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the Trump White House "has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and order". One exception was Arizona Senator John McCain, who called Monday's report, "If true, deeply disturbing".

"Whether they be friends, ally, sometimes even adversaries share intelligence information with us under the expectation we safe guard the information, Price said".