Trump’s White House meeting with Russians returns to haunt
Sheetal Sukhija - Saturday 25th November, 2017
A bombshell revelation was made in report about Trump’s meeting with Russians
After he fired Comey, Trump met Russian officials at the Oval Office
Trump infuriated the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities during that meeting
WASHINGTON, U.S. - One of U.S. President Donald Trump’s most controversial moves as the country’s head has returned to haunt him.
In a move that wasn’t just controversial but has led to a case of possible obstruction of justice against Trump, the President fired the former FBI Director James Comey earlier this year.
However, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues his probe into whether Trump indeed did obstruct justice - what the President did a day after firing Comey has now been dragged into the spotlight.
A day after removing Comey, Trump held a highly controversial meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
While his meeting itself caused an uproar, the more explosive revelation was that during the meeting with the top Russian officials, he let slip details of a top-secret intelligence to the Russian ambassador.
Current and former U.S. officials revealed that at the meeting, Trump had revealed the highly classified information to the Russian official, putting a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk.
It was also noted that the information Trump relayed during the Oval Office meeting had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement - later indicated to be Israel.
The information was considered so sensitive, that details of it had even been withheld from allies and was tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.
Trump’s move sparked widespread concern within the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities as he revealed the highly classified piece of news to Lavrov and Kislyak.
The information was revealed to have been about the terrorist group ISIS's work to develop a laptop bomb that could pass through airport security undetected — information Trump had received from Israeli intelligence officials.
Earlier this week, a top American spy told Israeli intelligence officials during a meeting at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, a few weeks before Trump's inauguration that U.S. intelligence believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had "leverages of pressure" over Trump.
The report in Vanity Fair has claimed that the American official warned that information provided to the White House could be leaked to the Russians and, therefore, eventually to their ally Iran, Israel's greatest adversary.
However, the Israelis reportedly did not treat this warning with much seriousness and continued sharing highly classified information with the U.S., one of its closest allies.
During the meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office on May 10, Trump reporedly told the Russians that he had “faced great pressure” as a result of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. election — and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow — that Comey was leading, calling him "crazy" and "a real nut job."
Trump then reportedly described the broad outlines of the Israeli intelligence and named the Syrian city in which it was gathered.
When the news of the classified information leak first emerged, Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials were reportedly infuriated.
A senior Israeli military official quoted in the report said, "Trump betrayed us. And if we can't trust him, then we're going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran."
In May, Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director said that Trump's apparently unvetted disclosure was "highly damaging" and would negatively affect the U.S.’s relationships with foreign allies.
Morell added, “Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause.”
Morrell even predicted that the Russians would attempt to determine how the Israelis collected the intelligence and could target its source.
He said, “The Russians will undoubtedly try to figure out the source or the method of this information to make sure that it is not also collecting on their activities in Syria — and in trying to do that they could well disrupt the source.”
The report also quoted a former Israeli official who did not disclose what happened to the source but said, "Whatever happened to him, it's a hell of price to pay for a president's mistake."
Weeks after the disclosure was made, the New York Times reported that the classified information Trump leaked to the Russians was related to cyber-experts working for the Israeli government being able to hack into ISIS's computer systems.
Amongst the shocking things that they learnt was the intel related to ISIS potentially making bombs that looked like batteries for laptop computers.
The report stated that Israeli intelligence was able to discover that ISIS bomb makers were capable of creating explosives that looked like batteries in laptops, which would fool X-ray machines.
Based on this revelation, U.S. was forced to enact a ban on carry-on laptops on planes coming from select countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
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