Trump Reveals to Russians Highly Classified Information Provided by Spy inside Islamic State
U.S. president Donald Trump might have committed treason when he revealed highly-classified "code-word information" to top Russian government officials that held a private meeting with him on May 10, including Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, whom the U.S. Intelligence Community asserts is Russia's top spy in the United States.
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Stunning stories in both the Washington Post (which broke the story) and the New York Times tell the same tale about the dense U.S. president (who's credited with having a Grade 5 comprehension and vocabulary) bragging to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov about the great top secret information he has about a specific plot being hatched by ISIS or the Islamic State, and how ISIS plans to carry out this attack.
"I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day," said the president, according to an official with knowledge of the conversation as quoted by the Post.
At one point in this conversation, Trump (wittingly or unwittingly) also revealed to Lavrov a city in the Islamic State's territory where the U.S. intelligence partner's spy detected the threat.
This seemingly innocuous bit of banter would have been enough for the Russians, who are the major backers of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, to focus their counter espionage operations on this city to unmask this spy apparently working for a U.S. ally, probably one in the Middle East.
The capture of this spy will likely lead to the destruction of the spy network he or she works for, and jeopardize other intelligence operations by the U.S. and its allies in the war against terror.
Current and former U.S. officials claim Trump's disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence about ISIS.
The information revealed by Trump was provided by a U.S. ally through an intelligence-sharing arrangement. Sources told media the information Trump revealed was considered so sensitive details were withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.
The U.S. ally hadn't given the United States permission to share the material with Russia. Trump's decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of ISIS.
"This is code-word information," said a U.S. official familiar with the matter.
Code-word information is intelligence community-speak for one of the highest classification levels used by the U.S. Intelligence Community. Trump "revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies," said one source.
"It is all kind of shocking," said a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials.
"Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn't grasp the gravity of the things he's dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security. And it's all clouded because of this problem he has with Russia."
The White House, however, denies Trump told the Russians top secret information, which, if proven, might lead to charges of treason against Trump.
"The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation," said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was the meeting with the Russians.
"At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly."