Trump told 2 top Russian officials in 2017 that he wasn’t bothered about Russia’s election meddling

President Donald Trump meets with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Russian Embassy
  • President Donald Trump told two top Russian officials in 2017 that he wasn’t worried about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported Friday.
  • Trump said he wasn’t bothered by it because the US had also conducted similar operations, the report said.
  • White House officials were said to have been so alarmed by the remarks that they limited the number of people who had access to a memo of the meeting to as few as possible, three former officials told The Post.
  • The revelation adds to a list of controversial comments Trump made during the meeting. In addition to disclosing classified intelligence to the Russians that the US had gotten from a close ally, Trump also boasted that firing the “nut job” FBI director, James Comey, had taken “great pressure” off of him.
  • The US extracted a top spy from Russia shortly after the meeting, reportedly in part because officials were concerned about how the Trump administration handled classified information.
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President Donald Trump told two senior Russian officials during an infamous 2017 Oval Office meeting that he wasn’t bothered by Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Trump reportedly told Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he wasn’t concerned about the matter because the US did similar things in other countries.

Trump’s comments alarmed White House officials so much that they limited access to a memo of the meeting to a small circle of aides who had top-secret clearance, The Post reported, citing three former officials. This action was said to have been taken in order to prevent Trump’s comments from being disclosed to the public.

The revelation adds yet another layer to the list of controversial comments the US president made during the pivotal meeting.

The meeting took place one day after Trump fired then FBI director James Comey, who was investigating Russia’s election meddling. The White House initially said Comey was dismissed because of the way he handled the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. But Trump revealed on national television that he fired Comey because of “this Russia thing.”

During the meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump boasted that firing “nut job” Comey had taken “great pressure” off of him.

He also disclosed to the Russians classified intelligence about the Islamic State that had been provided by Israel, one of the United States’ closest Middle Eastern allies.

Shortly after the meeting, the US extracted a top spy from Russia, CNN reported early this month.

Officials began being concerned about the asset’s safety as the US learned the extent to which Russia was interfering in the 2016 election and as the media reported on it and started examining the CIA’s sources in Kremlin, The New York Times reported. The CIA decided to offer to extract the spy in late 2016, before Trump took office.

The spy apparently refused, but officials’ concerns were compounded when, in May 2017, Trump disclosed classified intel to the Russians during the Oval Office meeting, CNN reported.

The information Trump shared with the Russians wasn’t directly connected to the source, and there is no evidence Trump endangered the spy. But CNN reported that its disclosure prompted officials to “renew earlier discussions” about the potential risk that the source would be exposed.

In particular, they were worried that Trump and his administration routinely mishandled classified information and that their actions could expose the covert source as a spy within the Russian government.