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Trump Administration Reveals Classified Information to Russian Officials

18 May 2017

The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to the episode. "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". "Careless disclosure can dry up sources, whether it be the identities and lives of those in the field or the cooperation we get from liaison with other services, who have to protect their sources and methods".

The New York Times reported that the information was provided, at least in part, by Israel - which had allegedly urged Washington be careful in handling it.

The information that "endangered cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State", according to the Post, was reportedly so sensitive that details were withheld from other global partners and restricted even within the USA government.

Trump's controversial meeting with Russian diplomats came one day after he threw his administration into turmoil by taking the rare step of firing his FBI director, James Comey, who had been overseeing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia to skew the 2016 election. The meeting was on the president's public schedule but American press was not allowed in; images of the meeting were made available through Russian state media.

Counter-terror operations were among the issues discussed by the two leaders, with Germany standing as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and intelligence partner. Trump said in a pair of tweets Tuesday he had the "absolute right" to share "facts" with the Russians.

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McMaster said Tuesday that the "premise" of The Post's story was false but wouldn't say whether Trump had given the Russians classified information.

President Trump and top White House officials defended his conversations with Russian officials Tuesday, while lashing out at anonymous sources who relayed the sensitive information to reporters.

Trump later was informed that he had broken protocol and White House officials placed calls to the National Security Agency and the CIA looking to minimize any damage. Such sharing "could be a risk for our sources", the official said. "I appreciate General McMaster and Secretary Tillerson sharing additional details, but I hope the Administration comes forward and provides a full explanation of the facts to Congress soon", said Toomey, a Republican, in a statement.

MCMASTER: It is wholly appropriate for the President to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people.

At the time, discussions "raised fears of a leakage of Israeli intelligence top-classified information, clandestine modus oprandi and sources ... to Russia", Israeli newspaper Yedioth reported. His action raised fresh questions about his handling of classified information and his dealings with Russian Federation, which is widely considered an adversary by many USA officials and Western allies.

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Officials told CNN at the time that the ban came about following the collection of intercepted material and "human intelligence". They can try to stay silent now, but they will have to answer to voters next year. "They can marry President Trump's comments with their own intelligence, and intelligence from their allies. They can also deploy additional resources to find out details".

The episode could have far-reaching consequences, Democrats warned.

According to U.S. and diplomatic officials, Israeli intelligence was a source for some of the information about ISIS bomb-making capabilities that the President discussed with Russian diplomats.

"I have to hope that someone will counsel the president about just what it means to protect closely held information and why this is so unsafe, ultimately, to our national security", Schiff said at a policy conference in Washington sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a liberal group.

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