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Trump Revealed Highly Classified Intelligence to Russia, in Break With Ally, Officials Say

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Matthew Rosenberg and Eric Schmitt report in the NY Times:

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 ally, which has shared information in the past with the United States only to see it leaked, has repeatedly warned American officials that it would cut off access to such sensitive information if it were shared too widely, said the former official. In this case, the fear is that Russia will be able to determine exactly how the information was collected and could disrupt the ally’s espionage efforts.

Beyond angering a partner and calling into question the ability of the United States to keep secrets, the episode also opens Mr. Trump to criticism of a double standard. The president made Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information through her private email server central to his campaign, leading chants of “lock of her up” at rallies. But there was never any indication that Mrs. Clinton exposed sensitive information from an ally or gave it to an adversary.

The Trump administration pushed back on the revelation, with high-ranking officials denying that the president discussed such highly sensitive information with the Russian officials. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 May 2017 at 4:24 pm

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