Ex-CIA director: Trump 'violated 2 protocols' if he shared classified intelligence with Russian diplomats

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that President Donald Trump may have violated two protocols governing the disclosure of classified information when he disclosed information to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office earlier this month.

“If the reports are true that the president decided to share classified intelligence with the Russians, then he violated two protocols,” Brennan replied.

“The first is that this kind of intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. It’s shared through intelligence channels,” he said.

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump shared highly classified intelligence about the Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during their meeting on May 10.

“The second is that, before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it has to go back to the originating agency to ensure that revealing it won’t compromise sources, methods, and future collection capabilities,” Brennan said.

Brennan noted that he had shared classified intelligence with the Russians while he was the CIA director between 2013-2017. But it was done through proper intelligence channels, he asserted, and only when he thought that it was necessary to save Russian lives.

The information Trump shared with the Russians — about an ISIS plot to smuggle laptop bombs on aeroplanes — was reportedly collected by Israeli intelligence services. Brennan said he was disturbed by the leaks coming out of the White House, especially the one that identified Israel as the apparent source of the ISIS intelligence.

The White House has pushed back on claims that Trump shared classified intelligence with Lavrov and Kislyak. National security adviser HR McMaster, who was present for the meeting, told reporters last week that Trump never disclosed “sources and methods” of sensitive intelligence. Russian photographers were allowed into the meeting, while US media was barred.

Israel’s ambassador said in a public statement that Israel still has confidence in its intelligence partnership with the US, but Israeli officials said privately that Trump’s disclosures to the Russians were “our worst fears confirmed.”

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement shortly after the hearing ended saying that Brennan’s “admonition that the sharing of any classified information with the Russians should only proceed through intelligence channels, and with significant thought given to ensuring that whatever information is provided would not reveal sources and methods, should serve as a reminder to the White House of the dangers of the many impromptu disclosures by the president in his Oval Office meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak.”

Trump also reportedly told Lavrov and Kislyak during that meeting that former FBI Director James Comey — who was fired earlier this month amid the bureau’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election — was a “nut job.”

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