White House pushes back against leak allegations to Russia

World Today

It’s no secret that Donald Trump wants to find new partners in the fight against terrorism.

But is he willing to use classified information as a bargaining chip to do so?

As of Tuesday, White House officials did not reject the notion that he shared top secret information with Russian officials in a conversation about a threat from ISIL.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

White House pushes back against leak allegations to Russia

It’s no secret that Donald Trump wants to find new partners in the fight against terrorism. But is he willing to use classified information as a bargaining chip to do so? As of Tuesday, White House officials did not reject the notion that he shared top secret information with Russian officials in a conversation about a threat from ISIL. CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

White House officials said that U.S. President Donald Trump did not know where the intelligence came from that he shared with Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week. They acknowledge it was about an ISIL threat to attack airplanes – a threat that hits home for both the U.S. and Russia.

Trump, in part, described that meeting this way:

“We had a very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of Russia. Our fight is against ISIS. So we’re going to have a lot of great success over the next coming years and we want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible.”

According to multiple reports, it was Israel which provided Washington the top secret information he revealed. The Israelis have long had concerns about Russia’s ties to Iran which they deem a core national security threat. European allies have also privately expressed concern.

Yet, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said, “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence sharing relationship with the U.S. ” Canada, a trusted U.S. intelligence partner, through the group known as “the five-eyes” was similarly hopeful.

“We’re a five eyes partner. And that’s a very important relationship….on this story this morning, I don’t have any specific information,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

As the U.S. President, Trump has authority to declassify information and the discretion to share it if he believes it’s in the national interest. But Trump’s national security adviser has not said whether that’s what happened in the Oval Office last week.

“As I mentioned already we don’t say what’s classified and what’s not classified. 00:53:08 What I will tell you again is what the president shared was wholly appropriate,” H.R. McMaster, U.S. National Security Adviser, said.

The White House said the real national security threat is the leaks coming out of this administration. All of this, as the president heads to the Middle East over the weekend to meet with Arab and Israeli leaders.