Israeli officials 'had previously been advised against sharing information with Donald Trump by US intelligence agents'

Officials 'concerned information given to Moscow could be passed to Tehran'

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 16 May 2017 14:50 BST
President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US intelligence agents reportedly warned Israeli officials against giving classified information to Donald Trump's administration because it could be leaked to Russia.

Intelligence concerns, discussed in private meetings, were based on suspected ties between the President's close associates and the Kremlin, a report in January said.

The article, by Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, has received renewed attention after reports that Mr Trump allegedly disclosed highly classified information to two senior Russian officials.

Israeli intelligence agents were said to be concerned that information given to Russia could be passed on to Iran.

Moscow and Tehran have formed alliances in conflicts such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, while Iran severed all diplomatic ties with Israel following the 1979 revolution in the country.

American intelligence officials had expressed despair at the election of Mr Trump in a meeting with Israel, according to the January report,

They said they believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had "leverages of pressure" over the then-President-elect and urged Israel to "be careful" when handing the White House sensitive information.

Mr Trump’s administration was plunged into fresh controversy this week, after The Washington Post reported the President had divulged highly sensitive information about an attack planned by Isis to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The intelligence was supplied by a US ally in the fight against the militant group, two officials with knowledge of the situation said.

One official said the intelligence discussed by Mr Trump was classified “top secret” and only known by a handful of intelligence officials.

After Mr Trump reportedly disclosed the information in a manner described as spontaneous, officials immediately called the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), both of which have agreements with a number of allied intelligence services around the world, and informed them what had happened.

While the President has the authority to disclose even the most highly classified information, in this instance he did so without asking the ally that provided it, which threatens to jeopardise a long-standing intelligence-sharing agreement, the US officials said.

The White House said the allegations were incorrect.

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false,” HR McMaster, Mr Trump's national security adviser, told reporters at the White House.

He added that the leaders reviewed a range of common threats including to civil aviation.

“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed," he said. "The President did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known... I was in the room. It didn't happen."

The latest controversy came shortly after Mr Trump was heavily criticised for the controversial sacking of FBI Director James Comey.

The President has since been accused by Democrats and others of firing him because he was heading the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the presidential election.

The White House’s official reasoning for the dismissal is Mr Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server.

However, the US leader has stated that he fired him after growing tired of hearing about the FBI investigation into his campaign's possible ties to Russia.

This has led to congressional calls for an independent investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

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