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BREAKING: Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information To Russians During White House Visit (Corroborated By Four Different News Sources)
The president disclosed classified intelligence with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister last week, two US officials confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
By Jim Dalrymple II, Jason Leopold

President Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials during a meeting last week at the White House, two US officials confirmed Monday to BuzzFeed News.

The meeting included Russia’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The disclosures were first reported by the Washington Post, which cited current and former US officials who said the information was considered so sensitive that some details had been withheld from American allies and was restricted within the US government.

Two US officials who were briefed on Trump’s disclosures last week confirmed to BuzzFeed News the veracity of the Washington Post report, with one noting that “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.” The official was referring to the extent of the classified intelligence information Trump disclosed to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister.

The information Trump shared included intelligence on an ISIS plot that had been passed to the US by a partner, which was not identified. But Trump’s disclosure was considered a potential blow to the intelligence-sharing arrangement, and White House officials reportedly moved quickly to contain the fallout.

At least one member of the Senate Intelligence Committee was briefed on Trump’s disclosures, an intelligence committee staffer said. Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, was not briefed, according to his office. Other members of the committee also said they did not receive a briefing.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the record when reached by BuzzFeed News. The official referred requests for comment to the National Security Council, which did not respond to requests for comment.

Following last week’s meeting, the White House said that Trump spoke to the Russians about ending the conflict in Syria and reigning in the Assad regime there, as well as controlling Iran. The White House also said Ukraine and the Middle East came up at the meeting.

After news of Trump’s revelations broke Monday, Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, said “obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening.”

“And the shame of it is, there’s a really good national security team in place…but the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment,” Corker told reporters in Washington.

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said that “we have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount.”

“The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration,” said Doug Andres, Ryan’s spokesman.

In a statement Monday evening, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Trump and Russian officials discussed “a broad range of subjects at their meeting,” including “common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.”

“During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations,” Tillerson continued.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser who participated in the meeting, said in a statement that “the president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation.”

“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,“ he added.

McMaster reiterated that point during a brief news conference outside the White House Monday night, saying that at no time during the meeting "were intelligence sources or methods discussed.”

“I was in the room, it didn’t happen,” McMaster said.

The Washington Post, however, did not report Trump shared intelligence sources or methods, but rather the contents of the information gathered.

“This story is false,” Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser, said Monday night. “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” she said.”

The meeting between Trump, Lavrov, and Kislyak happened the day after the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading an investigation into Russian interference with the US election, as well as potential ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Initially, the stated reason for Comey’s firing was his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. However, in an interview with Lester Holt, Trump later said he was thinking of the Russia investigation when he fired Comey.

Comey’s firing led to speculation that Trump had obstructed justice, as well as numerous calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the Russia investigation.

“I don’t know when it will be enough for Republicans to understand that we need to get to the bottom of the connection between the president of the United States and the Russian government,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday afternoon that if the reports about Trump revealing information were true “it’d be troubling.” Warner called the revelations “a slap in the face to the intel community.”

Though Trump’s alleged revelations to the Russians last week prompted widespread condemnation Monday, they were probably not illegal, according to Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

“This story is more about the president’s competence than his compliance with the law,” Aftergood told BuzzFeed News. “There is probably no legal issue here, since the President controls the classification system and has essentially unlimited authority to declassify or disclose classified information. The reported fact that Trump disclosed intelligence information to the Russians does not necessarily mean that it was declassified.”

BuzzFeed News reporter Emma Loop contributed to this report from Washington.

UPDATE: May 15, 2017, at 7:21 p.m.

A staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee had been briefed on Trump’s disclosure. Several members of the committee have since said they were not briefed and this story has been updated with additional information.

UPDATE: May 15, 2017 at 8:49 p.m. 

“Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now,” @SenBobCorker on Trump’s Russia revelations


3 top GOP senators are questioning Trump's decision to fire Comey

(John McCainJonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Three top Republican senators on Tuesday questioned President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Sens. John McCain, Bob Corker, and Richard Burr all made separate statements on Tuesday about Trump’s unexpected decision.

“While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office,” McCain, an Arizona senator, said in a statement. “James Comey is a man of honor and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances.”

“I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” the statement continued. “The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”

Corker expressed similar skepticism of Trump’s decision.

“While the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions,” Corker, of Tennessee, said in a statement. “It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion, and it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.”

Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was "troubled" by “the timing and reasoning” of Comey’s firing.

“I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee. Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation,” Burr said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, pointed to Comey’s July 2016 public announcement of his recommendation regarding the investigation into then-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.

The deputy attorney general said Comey was “wrong to usurp the attorney general’s authority” by going public with the FBI’s recommendation to not bring charges forth against Clinton for her use of the server.

The White House said Trump was acting on Rosenstein’s and Sessions’ recommendation to fire Comey.

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Congressional Republicans have followed a nearly identical script whenever President Donald Trump enmeshes himself in a national security scandal. First, they make overtures toward being disgruntled and troubled by the revelation, leading to news reports about a fissure in the Republican Party. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) began fitting right into that pattern on Monday after the Washington Post reported that Trump had willingly disclosed national security secrets to Russian officials in a meeting. Read more
GOP senator says the White House must reverse its 'downward spiral'

(Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
After President Donald Trump’s reported leak of classified information that has since been scorned by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said the White House must reverse its “downward spiral.”

“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order,” he said on Monday, according to Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur. “It’s got to happen.”

“Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” Corker continued.

As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker overseas US legislation on foreign policy.

Corker’s comments come shortly after current and former US officials told The Washington Post that Trump had revealed classified information regarding the Islamic State to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the US last week during a meeting in the Oval Office.

The intelligence that was reportedly shared was so sensitive that it was even “withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the US government,” The Post reported on Monday.

“You know the shame of it is there’s a really good national security team in place, there’s good productive things that are underway through them, and through others,” Corker continued, according to CNN. “But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think — it creates a worrisome environment.”

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