Donald Trump's talk with Russians 'wholly appropriate,' adviser says

17 May 2017, 11:41 | Santos Harmon

Donald Trump's talk with Russians 'wholly appropriate,' adviser says

Donald Trump speaks with Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office. Flickr  The White House

For a man who wanted to lock up Hillary Clinton for her reckless handling of State Department materials, President Donald Trump seems remarkably unaware of the dangers of leaking highly classified information to known adversaries. While Trump is correct to say he has an "absolute right" to share any information he wants, experts say that strategy can be risky - especially because allies could lose their trust in the USA ability to keep secrets and might stop sharing valuable intelligence with their American counterparts.

News confirmed the Times report citing three government officials with knowledge.

Israel and the United States are close allies whose leaders often refer to the countries' "special relationship".

The revelation deals a potential blow to intelligence relationships based on trust that secrets will be kept.

Israel is a major intelligence collector in the Middle East.

"We have an arrangement with America which is unique to the world of intelligence sharing".

When the President Of The United States can't be left alone in a room with other foreign leaders for fear that he might do something to jeopardize worldwide relations or national security, that is an unprecedented problem in presidential history.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he'd withhold judgment until he learns more "in a classified setting" - a comment that implied such a briefing would take place. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the intelligence sharing was "deeply disturbing".

The bombshell revelation ignited speculations that Israel may cancel Trump's upcoming trip, according to the Jerusalem Post's senior Israeli political correspondent, Lahav Harkov.

At one point, McMaster said that the information Trump revealed "was nothing that you would not know from open source reporting". The Post said the level of detail Trump disclosed may enable the Russians to identify the source or method of gathering the information.

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Trump early Tuesday argued that as commander in chief, he has the "absolute right" to share information with whomever he deems relevant.

One day after officials declared that reports about Trump's discussions with the Russians were false, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president had been engaging in "routine sharing of information" with foreign leaders.

The Post story does not claim that Trump revealed any specific information about how the intelligence was gathered. "He made the decision in the context of the conversation, which was wholly appropriate".

U.S. media reports said Mr Trump had shared top secret material with Russia's Foreign Minister and ambassador on 10 May.

He added that he was "not concerned at all" that allies would be hesitant to intelligence-share with the United States out of concern for the security of that information. Another source told CBS News that "not only could a person be killed, but ISIS could speed up plots".

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, would not say which country's intelligence was divulged.

A senior German lawmaker also expressed grave concern in reaction to the report. General McMaster, in particular, has tried to insert caveats or gentle corrections into conversations when he believes the president is straying off topic or onto boggy diplomatic ground.

The information reportedly came from a United States ally who had not authorised Washington to share it with Moscow.

A current and a former American official, who both requested to remain anonymous, told the Times that Israel had previously urged the U.S.to be careful with the intelligence that Trump shared with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. During the meeting, according to the Israelis who participated in it, their American colleagues voiced despair over Trump's election, as he often lashes out at the American intelligence community.



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