May 16, 2017

Trump Administration Trashes Story of Intelligence Sharing with Lavrov


Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Trump Meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

President Donald Trump speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at the White House in Washington, DC

Washington, DC – The top level of the Trump Administration came out this evening (May 15) to deny a story that appeared in the Washington Post. The story alleges that President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, during their meeting last week, potentially jeopardizing a source of intelligence about Islamic State (ISIS).

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who participated in the meeting said, “there’s nothing President Trump takes more seriously than the country’s safety.”

Addressing journalists at the stakeout in front of the Oval Office at the White House, McMaster said, “The story (from the Washington Post newspaper) that came out tonight, as reported, is false,” adding, “The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”

“Two other senior officials who were present, including the Secretary of State, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen. Thanks, everybody. Thank you,” concluded McMaster.

McMaster took about a minute to read his written statement after putting on his reading glasses and he did not respond to shouted questions.

Earlier the US Secretary of State Rex W. TIllerson said in a statement, “During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism,” adding, “During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” said Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, who also attended the meeting.

The Washington Post report said that the information that Trump boasted about, had been provided by a US partner through a highly sensitive intelligence-sharing arrangement.

Noting that the partner had not given US permission to share the material with Russia, Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State militant group, the Post said, citing unnamed officials.

During his Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump went off-script and began describing details about an Islamic State threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft, the officials confided to the Washington Post.

Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak at the White House came a day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency’s investigation into possible links between Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow.