Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump intel sharing risks damaging United States alliances

Trump intel sharing risks damaging United States alliances

Trump reportedly shared classified intelligence about a plot by the Islamic State to use laptops to carry out terrorist attacks in airplanes when the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak visited him in the Oval Office last week.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, said it's disturbing that Trump discussed any intelligence with officials from Russian Federation, a country under investigation by US authorities over allegations it interfered with last year's presidential election by hacking Democratic political organizations.

"They are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that's happening", Corker said.

Putin denied reports that Trump shared intelligence in the meeting, describing the media reports on the issue as "political Schizophrenia".

The concern, US officials told CNN in late March, was that publishing certain information, including a city where some of the intelligence was collected, could tip off adversaries about the sources and methods used to gather the intelligence. The information allegedly came from a key US ally, the name of which has not been made public.

While the media was running with it, national security adviser H.R. McMaster stepped in to say that "at no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly".

The White House hasn't denied that the President appears to have let the Russian government in on information so highly sensitive that the US government had previously told CNN that publishing it would endanger lives and destroy intelligence-gathering methods used to keep an eye on terrorist groups.

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"Without revealing sources and methods, it's hard to prove how the US got it, who it got it from, when it got it", Waurishuk explained, countering various assertions that the Russians would be able to determine essential information from the limited details Trump offered during the meeting with the Russians.

The bombshell Comey news came as the beleaguered administration was still struggling mightily to explain Monday's revelation that the president had disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and the country's ambassador to the United States. When pressed about whether that intelligence was a specific city in the Middle East, McMaster said that whatever Trump may have said was "nothing that you would not know from open-source reporting in terms of a source of concern".

McMaster's statement did not specify whether Trump talked about the plot.

"This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States", renowned legal expert Alan Dershowitz told CNN late on Monday.

Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said the speaker was looking for "a full explanation of the facts from the administration". However, a subsequent New York Times report identified Israel as the source of the intelligence. It took place a day after the president fired FBI Director James Comey, who was conducting a probe into Kremlin meddling in last year's election.

National Security Adviser HR McMaster said the president's comments were "wholly appropriate".

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