- The New York Times published a story saying intelligence agencies briefed President Donald Trump on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
- The agencies provided Trump with text messages and emails that show Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the meddling effort
- The New York Times reporting potentially compromises a high-level intelligence asset who is close to Putin and could put his life in danger
The New York Times published admittedly-sensitive information about U.S. intelligence sources close to the Russian president Wednesday in an effort to accuse President Donald Trump of muddying the waters on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The NYT reported Tuesday that intelligence heads showed Trump, prior to the start of his presidency, “texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to” Russian President Vladimir Putin who worked with the CIA on Russia’s malign activities. While the identity of the intelligence source was not disclosed in the report, the existence of the source, which was previously known to only a small group of individuals, was released to the public. It is unclear if the source referred to by TheNYT is still an active intelligence asset.
“Several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role,” TheNYT reports, “That included one particularly valuable source, who was considered so sensitive that Mr. Brennan had declined to refer to it in any way in the Presidential Daily Brief during the final months of the Obama administration.”
Former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly sent information from the source to former President Barack Obama and a handful of national security aides separately to ensure that the contents were kept secret. TheNYT cites “nearly a dozen” people who were either present for or briefed on a meeting between Trump and Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Director of the National Security Agency Adm. Mike Rodgers, and former FBI Director James Comey at Trump Tower on Jan. 6, 2017.
The four intelligence chiefs presented Trump with evidence that Putin ordered the efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, TheNYT reports, arguing that despite clear evidence the same Russian groups who have previously targeted the Department of State, White House, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even the NSA, the president has repeatedly questioned the extent of Russian interference. In certain cases, such as the Helsinki summit, he has made statements that contradict the assessments of his intelligence community. (RELATED: Director Of National Intelligence Says It’s ‘Clear’ Russia Meddled In The 2016 Presidential Election)
To make its argument that Trump has been misconstruing Russia’s role in the 2016 election, TheNYT has potentially put U.S. intelligence assets at risk, and this is not the first time something like this has occurred during the Trump administration.
The president allegedly shared classified details of an Islamic State terror plot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a private meeting in May 2017. While the president, who has ultimate declassification authority, may have shared information with the Russian officials, it was the media, relying on leaks, that then shared that information with the world.
“Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State,” The Washington Post reported. Speculation from Axios following the report stated, “Several national-security experts tell me that lives could well be lost as a result of an ISIS mole hunt that’s sure to follow.” (RELATED: Former Senior Intel Officer: If There’s An ISIS ‘Mole Hunt,’ It’s Because Of The Leakers Running To The Press)
In their rush to highlight Trump’s purported blunder, WaPo revealed that the information was linked to terrorist threats to aviation, and TheNYT told the world that the U.S. ally that gave the intelligence to the U.S. in the first place was Israel. Several outlets disclosed the supposed plot involved the placement of a laptop bomb on a commercial airliner, and CBS News reported that “the laptop bomb that may evade airport scanners was built and tested by ISIS at Mosul University.” (RELATED: The Media Blasted All Over The World The Very Intel They Accused Trump Of Leaking To The Russians)
Regarding TheNYT’s reporting at the time, The Wall Street Journal said that while it had the same information about Israel at that time, the outlet chose not to publish because “Trump administration officials said disclosing it could damage the two countries’ intelligence relationship and jeopardize operations.”
TheNYT did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation at the time of publication.
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