During a photo-op with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, President Donald Trump denied that he ever specifically mentioned Israel to top Russian officials during a meeting in which he reportedly gave the officials highly classified information.
That information was reportedly first shared with the United States by Israel, who had not given Trump permission to share it with the Russians.
The Washington Post reported last week that Trump had shared highly classified information on an Islamic State threat with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States during a closed-press meeting on May 10. On Tuesday, the New York Times and several other outlets — citing unnamed officials from America, Israel or both — reported that Israel had provided the United States with the intelligence Trump had shared without its authorization.
Netanyahu, seemingly responding to shouted questions from reporters during the photo-op Monday, said: “The intelligence cooperation is terrific.”
Trump, also seemingly noticing the questions, held out his hands to quiet the journalists and Israeli media wranglers in the room.
“And folks! And folks! Folks!” he yelled, waiting for silence.
“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” he said. “Never mentioned it, during that conversation.”
“They were all saying I did,” he continued, motioning to reporters. “So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”
“Intelligence cooperation is terrific, and it’s never been better,” Netanyahu added, though it was difficult to hear over the renewed shouting from reporters and media wranglers.
The Post did not claim in its initial report on Trump sharing the highly classified information that he shared the source of the information.
But the Post reported, citing unnamed officials, “Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat,” and “identification of the location was seen as particularly problematic, officials said, because Russia could use that detail to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved.”
“Russia could identify our sources or techniques,” an unnamed senior U.S. official told the Post.
On Tuesday of last week, defending the President, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said: “I should just make maybe the statement here that the President wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.”
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