- President Donald Trump infuriated the US and Israeli intelligence communities when he disclosed details of a highly classified Israeli operation to Russian officials earlier this year.
- Vanity Fair reported on Thursday that a top US official told the Israelis in January that Russia had “leverages of pressure” over Trump.
President Donald Trump sparked widespread concern within the US and Israeli intelligence communities earlier this year when he disclosed details of a highly classified Israeli operation to Russian officials, according to a new Vanity Fair report.
The Washington Post first reported in May that Trump told Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and ambassador to the US at the time, Sergey Kislyak, 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.
The information was highly classified and had not been disclosed even to close American allies.
Vanity Fair reported on Wednesday that 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 US intelligence believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump.
The report said that 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.
But the Israelis reportedly did not treat this warning with much seriousness and continued sharing highly classified information with the US, one of its closest allies.
Trump met with Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office on May 10, the day after he fired James Comey as FBI director. Trump told the Russians that he had “faced great pressure” as a result of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US 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.
‘A hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake’
When this surfaced in news reports, Israeli and US intelligence officials were infuriated, Vanity Fair reported.
“Trump betrayed us,” a senior Israeli military official told the news outlet. “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.”
Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director, told CBS News in May that Trump’s apparently unvetted disclosure was “highly damaging” and would negatively affect the US’s relationships with foreign allies.
“Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause,” Morell said.
Morrell predicted that the Russians would attempt to determine how the Israelis collected the intelligence and could target its source, which Vanity Fair reported was embedded deep within ISIS territory in Syria.
“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,” Morell said.
One former Israeli official would not disclose what happened to the source but told Vanity Fair, “Whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”
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