Embattled US President Donald Trump faced explosive allegations that he divulged top secret intelligence to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office, a charge the White House scrambled to rebut Monday.
The Washington Post reported that Trump revealed highly classified information on the Islamic State group during a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moscow’s man in Washington Sergey Kislyak.
In a shock twist, the intelligence reportedly came from a US ally who did not authorize Washington to share it with Moscow. That development that could shatter trust that is essential to intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation.
National Security Advisor HR McMaster denied the president had revealed “intelligence sources or methods,” but acknowledged that Trump and Lavrov “reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation.” The Post, citing unnamed officials, said that Trump went off script during the meeting, describing details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes, revealing the city where the information was gathered.
“There’s nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight as reported is false,” McMaster said without elaborating on which elements were wrong. On-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen.” McMaster earlier refused to answer questions to a group of journalists gathered in the West Wing, saying “this is the last place I wanted to be” before leaving.
-WASHINGTON AFP May16, 2017