Multiple news outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during their visit to the White House last week.
The Washington Post was the first to report the news, citing current and former U.S. officials who said Trump’s comments to the Russians “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”
Two U.S. officials who were briefed on Trump’s disclosures confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the president disclosed classified national security information to Russia’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the visit.
One official said the situation is “far worse than what has already been reported.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee has also been briefed on Trump’s disclosures, according to one of the officials.
The New York Times also confirmed the veracity of The Washington Post’s report, citing a current and a former American government official who said that Trump shared details that could expose the source of the classified information and how it was obtained.
Officials told the newspaper that Trump’s disclosures were about an Islamic State plot. According to the Times, the disclosure did not appear to be illegal but rather a “major breach of espionage etiquette” that could “jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement Monday denying Trump discussed “sources, methods or military operations” during his meeting with the Russian officials.
Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell told CNN’s Jim Acosta: “This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”
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Officials who spoke with the Post said the classified information — which included intelligence on ISIS — was considered “so sensitive” that details had been withheld from allies and restricted within the U.S. government.
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Recognizing the significance of Trump’s disclosures, senior White House officials reportedly moved quickly to contain the fallout, according to the Post.
The revelation comes nearly one week after Trump’s controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey. Comey had been leading the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, as well as the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia. Trump is now facing accusations that he fired Comey in an effort to obstruct the investigation.