The US had to extract a top spy from Russia after Trump revealed classified information to the Russians in an Oval Office meeting
- US officials were so alarmed by President Donald Trump's decision to reveal classified intelligence to Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting in 2017 that they extracted a top-secret source from Russia shortly after, CNN reported.
- Intelligence officials typically extract sources when they believe the person's life is in immediate danger.
- The information Trump shared with the Russians wasn't directly connected to the source, but CNN reported that its disclosure prompted officials to "renew earlier discussions" about the potential risk that the source would be exposed.
- The president has repeatedly been accused of mishandling classified information that could compromise the US's intelligence-gathering methods and put lives at risk.
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A person directly involved with the discussions told the outlet the US was concerned that Trump and his administration routinely mishandled classified intelligence and that their actions could expose the covert source as a spy within the Russian government.Trump stunned the national-security apparatus and intelligence community when it surfaced that he shared the information with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak at an Oval Office meeting in May 2017.
The meeting took place one day after Trump had fired then-FBI director James Comey, and the president is said to have boasted to the Russians that firing "nut job" Comey had taken "great pressure" off of him. Comey was spearheading the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election at the time.
Trump then went on to share intelligence with Lavrov and Kislyak connected to the Islamic State in Syria. The information had come from Israel, which had not given the US permission to share it with the Russians because it could have compromised an Israeli source in the region.
Trump's disclosure was not specifically about the Russian spy. But his move to disregard strict intelligence-sharing rules to protect highly placed sources prompted intelligence officials to "renew earlier discussions" about the potential risk that the source would be exposed, CNN reported.
The report said that Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director at the time, told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out regarding the US asset in Russia.This is not the first time national-security veterans have expressed concerns that Trump's actions could reveal sensitive information about US intelligence-gathering processes and human sources working abroad.
Late last month, the president took to Twitter to release US military information that he received during a classified intelligence briefing earlier that day.
Trump's tweet immediately set off alarm bells because it included a satellite photo of an Iranian launch pad that was a much higher resolution and better quality than the commercial satellite images of the site that were publicly available.
It also contained specific markers indicating that it was taken by USA-224, one of the US's most secretive spy satellites.
Intelligence veterans said the president's tweet will be a goldmine for hostile foreign powers.
"One doesn't use intel for the purposes of taunting. The Russians and the Chinese will be very happy to study this," Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer at the CIA and the National Security Agency, told Insider.
Last year, Trump also made the unusual decision to authorize the declassification of a highly controversial memo about the origins of the Russia investigation by Devin Nunes, then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, for political purposes.The memo and its release sparked a firestorm on Capitol Hill and within the intelligence community. Top intelligence officials met multiple times with senior White House staff to urge against releasing the document out of fears that it could expose sources and methods.
The Justice Department and the FBI also took the extraordinary step of releasing statements cautioning against its release by the House Intelligence Committee without giving officials enough time to review it.