Israeli intel experts alarmed by Trump leak but play down any damage
- Author: Leroy Wright May 18, 2017,
May 18, 2017, 1:07
U.S. media reports allege Trump passed ultra-sensitive classified information about the Islamic State group - gleaned by a foreign intelligence partner - to Russian diplomats during a meeting in the Oval Office.
The Washington Post report that US President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about so-called Islamic State (IS) to Russia's foreign minister has understandably disturbed a hornet's nest.
The controversy comes amid existing investigations into whether Trump's aides colluded with Russian Federation during the election campaign.
On Wednesday, Putin jokingly said of Lavrov, "I will have to reprimand him because he shared these secrets neither with me nor with the Russian secret services which is very inappropriate on his part". The press meet was held following a meeting with the Italian prime minister on Wednesday. "There is no other way I can explain the accusations against the acting United States president that he gave away some secrets to Lavrov", Putin said mocking the claims made by the U.S. press. "Vladimir Putin is having a lot of fun at the moment".
Putin said he had "no other explanation" as to why Trump has come under attack over the alleged incident other than "political schizophrenia", according to the Russian Interfax news agency.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York reacts to questions from reporters about President Donald Trump reportedly sharing classified information with two Russian diplomats during a meeting in the Oval Office, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. It said that Trump told Lavrov about a specific IS bomb threat.
Putin's offer set off alarm bells for many who've been watching the case, as what NPR's Lucian Kim referred to as an offer of a transcript was also translated as an offer of a "record" or "recording" - feeding speculation over Russia's own intelligence-gathering that centers on the U.S.
Hours later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster denied the reports, but it looks like now Trump is admitting that he did leak classified info, contradicting members of his top staff.
As for Comey, whom Trump fired last week, the FBI director wrote in a memo after a February meeting at the White House that the new president had asked him to shut down the FBI's investigation of Flynn and his Russian contacts, said a person who had read the memo.