US President Donald Trump has allegedly shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minster Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during an White House meeting last week.
According to Washington Post, Trump shared intelligence details gathered about an ISIS plot that had been closely guarded within the US government and among its close allies.
“This is code-word information,” an unnamed US official familiar with the matter, was quoted as saying by the Post. Code-word information is a terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies, the daily reported.
Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies,” the newspaper said, adding that following this, US officials have gone into damage control mode.
However, the news report was immediately refuted by both the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the National Security Advisor, who said that there was no discussion of specific threats with the Russians.
“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. The nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations,” the secretary of state Rex Tillerson, said.
According to the daily, the sensitive classified information was given to the US by one of its allies, which had not given it permission to share this with the Russians.
However, the Trump Administration denied the allegations.
“The President and the (Russian) foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organisations to include threats to aviation,” the National Security Adviser HR McMaster, who participated in the meeting said.
“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” McMaster said.
But the Post said the information the President relayed had been provided by a US partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the US government, officials said.
In a statement, the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, if news reports are true, Trump has “compromised a key source of intelligence collection” against ISIS and jeopardised the security of the American people.
“Even if President Trump unwittingly blew a highly classified code-word source to the Russians, that would be dangerous enough. If the President outed a highly classified code-word source intentionally, that would be even more dangerous,” Pelosi said.
She demanded that Congress must be given a full briefing on the extent of the damage President Trump has done in compromising highly classified code-word intelligence to the Russians.
“If Trump weren’t president, his dangerous disclosure to Russia could end with him in handcuffs,” the Democratic Party statement said.