Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Trump's leaks to Russian officials could discourage United States allies from sharing intelligence

Kenny Thornton | 17 May, 2017, 11:27

The White House is not planning to provide United States media with the list of individuals present in the Oval Office during the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, spokesman Secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing on Tuesday, APA reports quoting Sputnik. White House officials denounced the report, saying the president did not disclose intelligence sources or methods to the Russians, though officials did not deny that classified information was disclosed in the May 10 meeting.

The termination letter from President Donald Trump to FBI Director James Comey is photographed in Washington, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to defend his actions.

"In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he is engaged".

With the White House in chaos and congressional Republicans struggling to respond, communication appeared to have broken down between the two ends of Pennsylvania Ave. It is extraordinary for a president to share such information without consent of the country that collected it, apparently violating the confidentiality of an intelligence-sharing agreement with Israel.

Adversaries can often look at intelligence that has been disclosed and use reverse-engineering to find its source.

Trump's Tuesday-morning explanation of why he loosened his lips in last week's meeting with Russia's ambassador and foreign minister: for "humanitarian reasons", tweeted the President - to encourage Russian Federation "to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism".

A US president has the authority to disclose even the most highly classified information at will, but USA and allied officials said by giving information to Russia, Trump had endangered cooperation from an ally that has intelligence on Daesh. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel. I believe new leadership at the Federal Bureau of Investigation will restore confidence in the organization and among the people who do the hard work to carry out its mission", Blunt said at the time.

These types of conflicts are a near-constant in the Trump administration, which has tangled over accounts involving issues ranging from the size of Trump's inaugural crowd to the firing of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump's claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

"There isn't anybody who can run the White House without criticism", said Sen.

S. Korea, US Bilateral Summit Set for Late June
Moon took office on May 10, one day after a snap election brought by the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. Detailed schedule and agenda for the summit will be discussed later through diplomatic channels, Yoon said.

Comey's memo, an apparent effort to create a paper trail of his contacts with the White House, would be the clearest evidence to date that the president has tried to influence the investigation. Rather, it was given to the an ally in the fight against ISIS, and was provided with the understanding that it would not be shared with other countries without permission.

For some Republicans otherwise inclined to be critical of Trump, the fact that this incident involved his national security staff was confusing, because a number of them-in particular, McMaster-are well-regarded and well-respected in the foreign policy arena, in a way that others who come from Trump's campaign, but otherwise lack political experience, are not.

A senior European intelligence official told the AP his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms that Trump shared classified details with Russian officials. McMaster also dodged the question of whether Trump had mentioned the particular city from which the intelligence emerged-an element that would concern whether sources and methods were compromised-by saying that any reporter in the room could probably come up with a list of cities occupied by ISIS.

"What if portions of the USA government say, 'You know what, we'd better not share that up because we don't want to lose access to it, don't want it to be compromised, ' or friends and partners who'd normally share with us, they're concerned about having it compromised?" he said.

It's one thing for a few Republican senators to express concern and call for clarification on what happened.

Not only could the information's disclosure imperil an intelligence relationship with a helpful government, but it could also reveal a secret intelligence asset to a foreign adversary working at cross purposes to the USA and its allies. Trump was talking to Russia's foreign minister and its ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, whose contact with Michael Flynn led to Flynn's resignation as national security adviser and meeting with Jeff Sessions led to the attorney general's recusal from the probe into any collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was to brief members of the House intelligence committee later Tuesday. The White House was already reeling from its botched handling of Trump's decision last week to fire James Comey, the FBI director who was overseeing the Russian Federation investigation.

"I think it would be helpful to have less drama emanating from the White House", McConnell said during his own press conference earlier on Tuesday, reiterating comments he made even earlier in the morning.

Associated Press writers Vivian Salama and Jill Colvin contributed. AP writer Jan M. Olsen also contributed.


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