Trump Shared Intelligence Secrets With Russians in Oval Office Meeting, Washington Post Reports

Intelligence came from close U.S. ally and detailed Islamic State operations; national security adviser issues denial, says ‘I was in the room, it didn’t happen’

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Donald Trump and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office last week.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Donald Trump and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office last week. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump shared sensitive intelligence obtained from a close U.S. ally with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in a meeting last week, according to U.S. officials, potentially jeopardizing critical intelligence-sharing agreements in the fight against Islamic State.

Mr. Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.

During the meeting with the Russian officials, Mr. Trump mentioned details about Islamic State in a way that revealed enough information for the Russians to potentially compromise the source, according to the officials, who said the intelligence came from the U.S. ally.

According to one U.S. official, the information shared was highly sensitive and difficult to acquire and was considered extraordinarily valuable. The Wall Street Journal agreed not to identify the ally because another U.S. official said it could jeopardize the source.

The Washington Post reported Mr. Trump’s disclosure and said White House officials called the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency to warn of Mr. Trump’s disclosure and its possible consequences.

National Security Adviser Denies Trump Gave Russians Secrets
In a brief statement to reporters, National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster responded to a Washington Post article that claims President Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office last week. Photo: AP

The White House denied on Monday that Mr. Trump disclosed any sources and methods of U.S. intelligence services or those of U.S. allies.

“I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said in a statement outside the White House.

Gen. McMaster said in his statement that Mr. Trump didn’t divulge intelligence sources, methods or military operations, but he stopped short of denying that the president had shared any intelligence or other secrets with the Russians.

It was the latest in a string of controversies, all stemming from investigations into Mr. Trump’s associates and presidential campaign over ties to Russia. Mr. Trump last week fired Mr. Comey, who was heading up the investigation into the ties between Trump associates and Russia and testified about the probe.

The president’s meeting with Messrs. Lavrov and Kislyak came the day after Mr. Comey’s firing. The White House didn’t provide a photograph or detailed readout about the meeting, although a photographer from the Russian news agency, TASS, was in the room and released photographs.

The latest controversy left lawmakers puzzled and pessimistic about Mr. Trump’s administration.

“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen,” Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, referring to the string of recent events at the White House. “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening.”

The latest disclosures stunned Washington’s national-security veterans on both sides of the political divide. Although presidents have the legal right to declassify intelligence as they see fit, doing so can put intelligence sources abroad in danger and make them less willing to work with the U.S., several defense officials said.

“These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “It could harm our national security by cutting off important sources of intelligence that protect Americans against terrorist acts.”

“If it’s true, it’d be troubling,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.).

“Giving the Russians intelligence that our counterterrorism partners have asked us to protect is incredibly dangerous,” said Jeremy Bash, the former Pentagon chief of staff under President Obama. “It will ensure that those partners don’t share with us the information we need to protect ourselves.”

“It’s so mind-boggling, I don’t even know what to say,” said Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary of defense during the George W. Bush administration. “I’m completely gobsmacked. It’s jeopardizing a human source. It’s the one thing you’re trained to never do.”

On Capitol Hill, the report of Mr. Trump’s possible disclosure of classified information to the Russia’s top diplomat and its U.S. envoy prompted a chorus of concern from Democrats and Republicans.

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) released a statement calling for a “full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Mr. Ryan’s spokesman, Doug Andres.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D., Va.) said on Twitter: “If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he hadn’t confirmed the veracity of the Post’s report, but told CNN: “You never disclose sources of evidence.”

He continued, “It would be almost inconceivable that any president would allow something of that nature out.”

After the initial revelations, reporters flooded the hallway outside press secretary Sean Spicer’s West Wing office. At one point, Gen. McMaster walked into the scrum and quickly turned back and walked out, joking that the hallway full of reporters was “the last place” he wanted to be.

Ninety minutes after the Post story was published, Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy—and who also sat in on the meeting with the Russian officials—denied the story on the record. She called the Post’s story “false” and said: “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also issued a denial of the Post article.

A spokesman for the Post couldn’t be immediately reached for comment, but one of the Post reporters said in a television interview that the newspaper stood by the article.

Write to Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com and Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com

Appeared in the May. 16, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump Shared Secrets With Russians.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-denies-trump-gave-classified-information-to-russian-officials-1494890345

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One Response to “Trump Shared Intelligence Secrets With Russians in Oval Office Meeting, Washington Post Reports”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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