Besieged White House denies, defends as new bombshells hit


Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said the Intelligence Committee should have access to transcripts from last week's Oval Office meeting where Trump reportedly shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

The highly classified information about an Islamic State plot was collected by Israel, a crucial source of intelligence and close partner in the fight against some of the America's fiercest threats in the Middle East. Trump's disclosure of the information threatened to fray that partnership and piled pressure on the White House to explain the apparently on-the-spot decision to reveal the information to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office.

Citing current and former U.S. officials, the Post said Trump shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. In the newspaper's account, he went on to tell the visiting Russians just enough - including the city where the information originated - to enable a smart spy service to deduce the source.

Still, the revelations sent a White House accustomed to chaos reeling anew. It is extraordinary for a president to share such information without consent of the country that collected it, apparently violating the confidentiality of an intelligence-sharing agreement with Israel.

A USA official who confirmed the disclosure to The Associated Press said the revelation potentially put the source at risk.

Trump faces fierce criticism over his sharing of sensitive national security information with Russian officials and his firing last week of FBI Director James Comey. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel".

"I think where there might be concern is where people who have sources are now in a situation where they have to promise that this information will not be passed on to Donald Trump".

Lawmakers and intelligence officials anxious that such disclosures could dry up sources of information critical to USA national security.

Trump has frequently tasked aides and surrogates with delivering apparently false or misleading statements or to aggressively argue points that the president later contradicts. The White House vowed to track down those who disclosed the information. Putin even suggested that Russian Federation share the records of last week's talks between Trump and Lavrov with the U.S. Congress, if the White House approved. The New York Times reported the material came from Israel, and Russian Federation has intelligence ties to the Jewish state's arch-enemy Iran.

But other nations appeared to be reconsidering.

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"Although the president has the legal authority to disclose classified information, it would be very troubling if he did share such sensitive reporting with the Russians", Collins said.

The person who described the Comey memo to the AP was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Two: Trump and senior White House advisers learned January 26 that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak; Trump fired Flynn on February 13 for lying to Pence, after news reports described the Flynn-Kislyak talks. The former United States officials requested anonymity in order to discuss the handling of classified information.

Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the source of the classified information that Trump shared with the Russians was Israel, which makes the story even weirder and more unsafe.

Congressional Democrats pleaded with Republicans to turn against Mr. Trump, saying bipartisan opposition is needed to rein in a president who they claim is bungling the job.

"Reports that this information was provided by a USA ally and shared without its knowledge sends a troubling signal to America's allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future", said McCain, R-Ariz. That disclosure included highly classified information, the Post reported.

Danny Yatom, another ex-Mossad chief, said that if the reports were true, Trump had likely caused "heavy damage" to both Israeli and American security.

"I think we need to hear from him as soon as possible in public to respond to the issues that have been raised in recent days", Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Wall Street Journal, as the Senate's intelligence and judiciary committees and a House oversight panel asked Comey to testify.