Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, denied on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump had given him classified state information.
Media reports had said the U.S. extracted a top-level spy from Russia in 2017 on concerns he could have been jeopardised following a White House meeting between Lavrov and Trump.
Lavrov told newsmen that no one during this meeting gave anyone any state or even non-state secrets, adding that never met the alleged U.S. spy.
However, the Kremlin confirmed on Tuesday that the alleged informant had been working in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration.
On May 10, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump disclosed classified information to Russian government representatives, creating political and security concerns in the United States and its allies, especially Israel.
Soon after the meeting, American intelligence extracted a high-level covert source from within the Russian government, on concerns the individual could be at risk due, in part, to Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandling classified intelligence.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Trump discussed classified information provided by an U.S. ally about a planned Islamic State operation during an Oval Office meeting on May 10, 2017 with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
In the course of the meeting, the president provided sufficient details that could be used by the Russians to deduce the identity of the ally and the manner in which it was collected, according to current and former government officials.
The disclosure was first reported in The Washington Post on May 15, 2017.
White House staff initially denied the report, but the following day Trump defended the disclosure, stating that he has the “absolute right” to “share” intelligence with Russia.
It was later reported that Israel was the source of the information. Israel did not confirm or deny the report but released a statement stating full confidence in the intelligence sharing relationships with the U.S.
Ynetnews, an Israeli news website, had previously reported on Jan. 12 that in a meeting held in early January (during Trump’s presidential transition), U.S. intelligence officials advised Israeli Mossad and other intelligence officials to “be careful” when transferring intelligence information to the Trump White House and administration until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Christopher Steele’s report (commonly referred as the Trump-Russia dossier), has been fully investigated.
U.S. officials were concerned that the information, particularly about sensitive intelligence sources, could be passed to Russia and then to Iran.
Two Israeli intelligence officials confirmed privately that Trump’s disclosure of the intelligence to Russia was “for us, our worst fears confirmed.”
They said the disclosure jeopardizes Israel’s “arrangement with America which is unique to the world of intelligence sharing” and that Israeli officials were “boiling mad and demanding answers”.
The report was described as “shocking” and “horrifying” by some commentators and former U.S. intelligence officials.
According to current and former U.S. officials interviewed by ABC News, Trump’s disclosure endangered the life of a spy placed by Israel in ISIL-held territory in Syria.
The classified information Trump shared came from a source described as the most valuable of any current sources on any current external plotting, according to The Wall Street Journal.