US President Donald Trump has been accused of leaking highly classified information to top Russian officials during an Oval Office visit last week, according to a Washington Post report Monday.
During the meeting between Trump, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval office on Thursday, only Russian state-owned media was present because U.S. media were not allowed in the room.
The Post said Trump had given out sensitive information that had been shared with U.S. intelligence through a partner-sharing agreement with an unnamed ally, whose intelligence service had collected the information and who had not given the U.S. permission to share it.
“This is code-word information,” the source, a U.S. official, told the Post, referring to a kind of shielding U.S. intelligence agencies use to protect sensitive material with additional compartmentalization. In doing so, the source said, Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was present at the White House meeting with the Russians, downplayed the revelations, dismissing them as “false” in a statement delivered outside the White House Monday evening.
“The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation,” McMaster said. “At no time – at no time – were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”
He said two other senior officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, remembered the meeting the same way.
“I was in the room,” McMaster said. “It didn’t happen.”
According to the Post, Trump let slip the information while bragging about his access to intelligence.
“I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” he reportedly said, going on to discuss information gathered by a foreign intelligence partner on a specific Islamic State group plot and the city in which the plot was said to be planned.
The report has further revealed the chaos in White House and has also increased concerns by some Republicans and Democrats over the administration’s ability to handle classified information.