Inside what Trump reportedly leaked to the Russians
President Trump may have been unaware of it at the time, but a new report reveals that information he shared with Russian officials about an Islamic State plot to use bombs in laptops to bring down airplanes came from an Israeli hack of a terrorist unit in Syria.
In an Oval Office meeting on May 10, Trump told Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about a ISIS plot uncovered by an ally in the Middle East that requested that the information not be shared.
The sensitive information, according to Monday’s New York Times report, revealed that top Israeli cyberoperators about six months ago had penetrated a group of ISIS bombmakers in Syria who were working on explosives that would pass airport X-ray machines and other screenings.
The bombs were disguised as batteries for laptop computers, the report said.
The classified information prompted a ban on bringing electronic devices in carry-on luggage in March from 10 airports in eight mainly Muslim countries to the United States and Britain, the Times reported.
When the reports first surfaced on May 15 that sensitive information had been revealed to Lavrov and Kislyak, national security adviser H. R. McMaster said Trump’s discussion with the Kremlin officials was “wholly appropriate” and the president didn’t identify Israel as the source because he wasn’t briefed on where the information originated.
But reports at the time said Israeli officials were furious that the president may have “compromised a vital source of information on the Islamic State.”
The White House meeting raised eyebrows in other ways as well, since it happened a day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was heading up the agency’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the president’s campaign team colluded with the Kremlin.
And Kislyak has played a central role in the investigation.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired in February after reports revealed he had met with Kislyak during the campaign and hid the meetings from White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.
And although no US media were in the Oval Office during the May 10 meeting, Russian reporters were and released photos of Trump with Kislyak and Lavrov.
Reports surfaced in mid-May that Trump had divulged classified info during the meeting, but Monday’s article describes for the first time details of that data.
“I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day ,” Trump told the Russians, according to reports.
Intelligence officials, at the time, said the information had been shared with the US with a stipulation that it not be forwarded to anyone else, including allies.
The Trump administration denied that the president gave up sensitive information and said he only talked to the Russians about common threats.