American allies are said to be concerned this week after reports that President Donald Trump shared highly classified intelligence with Russian officials visiting the White House. On Tuesday, multiple sources revealed that the intelligence came from Israel, one of the United States’ closest allies in the Middle East.
But that may not be the worst of it. The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday that the Israeli source Trump allegedly compromised is “described by multiple U.S. officials as the most valuable source of information on external plotting by Islamic State.”
The Israeli source has been informing the United States about the threat of ISIS using explosive devices on commercial airplanes, according to the report. In March, the Trump administration issued guidance banning the use of laptop computers and other large electronic devices on planes coming to the United States from 10 Muslim-majority countries. At the time, officials told reporters the restrictions were prompted by bomb threats, but did not share more about ISIS’ capabilities.
According to the original Washington Post report Monday, Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week about threats from ISIS and measures the United States is taking to counter those threats, including military operations abroad and heightened security at home.
“I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” Trump reportedly told the Russians, according to an official who spoke with the Post.
It’s unclear whether Trump deliberately shared the “code word” classified intelligence, or whether he was boasting about his possession of such information, as some have speculated. Either scenario risks jeopardizing the United States’ trustworthiness in the eyes of its allies.
The Wall Street Journal noted that intelligence experts disagree on how much Trump’s revelation could jeopardize the key source of information on ISIS, as it’s unclear the Russians would be able to identify the source. But it’s also possible that the source will be less likely to share information moving forward, or that the source could be compromised now that the Russians are aware of its existence.
Speaking on behalf of the administration, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has said that Trump did not knowingly reveal anything classified. And Trump has said he had the “absolute right” to share information with the Russians, classified or not.