WASHINGTON — President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, a current and a former American government official said Monday.
The intelligence disclosed by Mr. Trump in a meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, was about an Islamic State plot, according to the officials. A foreign ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information, which was considered so sensitive that American officials did not share it widely within the United States government or pass it on to other allies.
Mr. Trump’s disclosure does not appear to have been illegal — the president has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it represented a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.
The Washington Post first reported the disclosure, which immediately reverberated around Washington.
“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order,” Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters, adding, “It’s got to happen.”Continue reading the main story
“Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” Mr. Corker said.
Asked about the larger effect of the disclosure, Mr. Corker said, “To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do, and that’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close as to prevent that from happening.”
Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on Twitter, “If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”Continue reading the main story