Israel Was Source Of Information Revealed By Trump
Multiple news agencies are reporting that Israel was the source of the classified information that President Trump provided to Russia’s Foreign Minister and U.S. Ambassador at an Oval Office meeting last week:
WASHINGTON — The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to the episode.
Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and a major intelligence collector in the Middle East. The revelation that Mr. Trump boasted about some of Israel’s most sensitive information to the Russians could damage the relationship between the two countries. It also raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East.
Israeli officials would not confirm that they were the source of the information that Mr. Trump shared. In a statement emailed to The New York Times, Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, reaffirmed that the two countries would maintain a close counterterrorism relationship.
“Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Mr. Dermer said.
In the meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, Mr. Trump disclosed intelligence about an Islamic State terrorist plot. At least some of the details that the United States has about the plot came from the Israelis, the officials said.
The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Israel previously had urged the United States to be careful about the handling of the intelligence that Mr. Trump discussed.
Israel’s concerns about the Trump White House’s handling of classified information were foreshadowed in the Israeli news media this year. Newspapers there reported in January that American officials warned their Israeli counterparts to be careful about what they told the Trump administration because it could be leaked to the Russians, given Mr. Trump’s openness toward President Vladimir V. Putin.
“The Russians have the widest intelligence collection mechanism in the world outside of our own. They can put together a good picture with just a few details,” said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the C.I.A. who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the C.I.A.’s Russia program for three years. “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. Any country that shares intelligence with American officials “could decide it can’t trust the United States with information, or worse, that it can’t trust the president of the United States with information,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
This news comes just days before Trump is scheduled to leave for his first foreign trip, which will include stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel before he heads to Europe for a multi-national meeting. Given this report, these visits should be interesting, to say the least.