President Donald Trump revealed highly classified intelligence information to Russian officials during a meeting at the White House last week, The Washington Post reported Monday. The report was later confirmed by The New York Times.
The intelligence information came from a country that was a partner with the United States on anti-terrorist efforts, and it had not been shared with allies because of how sensitive it is, the papers reported. Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, told reporters in a brief statement: “The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false.” “At not time were intelligence sources or methods discussed,” McMaster said. “I was in the room, and it didn’t happen,” he said. He didn’t take questions.
Trump’s decision to share the intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak threatens to harm cooperation between the United States and the partner country, officials told The Post, and may provide Moscow with enough background to identify the source. The report is the latest in a series documenting problematic connections between Trump and Russia. Last week he abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, later telling NBC News’ Lester Holt the Russia probe factored into his decision.
The Post reported that Trump revealed details about an ISIS threat involving a plot to use electronic devices to smuggle explosives onto planes. A former intelligence official told NBC News the discussion could have serious consequences in U.S. efforts to thwart the Islamic State. A key espionage partner may stop sharing information with the U.S., allies could become even more hesitant to share intelligence, and government officials may stop sharing information with the president for fear he won’t protect it, the former official said.
“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen,” Republican Sen. Bob Corker told reporters. “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips w all that’s happening.”