by Countable | 5.15.17
An anonymously-sourced report published Monday by The Washington Post cited current and former intelligence officials who said President Donald Trump revealed classified information about an ISIS plot to use laptops to bring down airliners and the location of the threat in Syria during a meeting last week with Russian officials.
The unnamed sources expressed concern that the information Trump conveyed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak could jeopardize the source and undermine cooperation with the U.S. ally which gathered and shared the intelligence. According to the report, the intelligence was given "code word" classification, which means that the information was compartmentalized so that only those who have been cleared can access it. If true, the revelation could also give Russian intelligence greater insight into U.S. intelligence gathering in the region.
The Trump administration has denied the allegation that classified information was revealed either deliberately or inadvertently. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — the only named source in the Post’s report — was in attendance and denied that there were "any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly."
Two other senior administration officials — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell — have denied that sensitive information related to sources, methods, or operations was revealed, and said only discussion of "common threats" occurred. McMaster gave a succinct briefing to the press outside of the White House Monday evening:
It’s worth noting that despite their denials, the statements made by McMaster and the other administration officials don’t explicitly rule out that Trump revealed the name of the city where the threat was detected, as that information wouldn’t be considered a "source" or “method.”
While there will likely be outcry from lawmakers characterizing the alleged disclosure as reckless, the president — unlike most other government employees — has wide ranging authority to declassify state secrets, so it’s highly unlikely he would’ve broken any law by discussing the information with the Russians.
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— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: MFA Russia via Flickr / Public Domain)
Written by Countable