Putin willing to hand over transcript of Russian official's meeting with Trump
- Author: Larry Hoffman May 17, 2017,
May 17, 2017, 23:49
Consternation and confusion overtook Capitol Hill on Tuesday as Republicans confronted revelations that President Donald Trump had disclosed highly classified information to the Russians in the Oval Office a day after firing FBI Director James Comey. Especially troubling was that a foreign country provided the intelligence confidentially to the U.S.
Mr Trump has been accused this week of disclosing top secret information on Islamic State (ISIS) with the Kremlin during a meeting with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Reuters provided more detail, including that the information related to potential terrorist threats involving laptops aboard aeroplanes.
Other countries, including Arab allies, also supplied some intelligence that drove the USA to impose restrictions on laptops and other electronics on flights from 10 countries in the region. US and European Union officials more recently have discussed expanding the ban to include flights from Europe.
Intelligence sharing is always hard and fraught, said Juliette Kayyem, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, and the recent meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian officials will complicate future co-operation.
A USA official who confirmed the disclosure to The Associated Press said the revelation potentially put the source at risk.
"Decisions about what President Trump discusses with anybody that he has in the White House is a matter for President Trump", May told a press conference in London.
The system for how USA secrets are classified and the rules for how they're handled derive from an executive order.
That means secrets are governed by the president and not by laws passed by Congress.
Typically, that has been interpreted to mean that the president has the ultimate authority to classify and to declassify information. Two sources told CNN that the information was classified. Yet the fallout from this decision is likely to be significant and potentially detrimental to USA national security interests. These include the Espionage Act and Identities Protection Act.
The President also likes to look at a map of wherever he is reading about, officials said.
But Canada depends on the US for a lot of intelligence - and if allies get more selective with what they share with the USA, it could have implications for Canada.
At first McMaster said that his subordinates may have done so "from an overabundance of precaution", but he then said he couldn't be sure because he had not spoken with the subordinate who had made the calls, Thomas P. Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.
The fact that the secrets went to Russian Federation, an adversary of the US and many of its allies, was especially alarming.
Canada certainly isn't stopping intelligence sharing with its closest ally.
"There is a special understanding of security co-operation between our countries". Even sharing limited amounts of intelligence about terrorist targets with Russian Federation, in Syria for example, has been the source of major controversy in the past.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump should release the alleged transcript "if [he] has nothing to hide".
The report said the spy's life was at risk because of the disclosure.
He said the President "wasn't even aware where this information came from" and "wasn't briefed on the sources and methods".
It reinforces the concerns allies should have about the trustworthiness and stability of the Trump White House. He used that phrase nine times in his briefing to reporters.
"The fact that you have very high quality sensitive intelligence can lead to revealing the source."
But intelligence experts say it's not that simple.