On May 9, 2017, President Trump abruptly fired then-F.B.I. Director James Comey, who was pursuing an investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The next day, Trump held a meeting in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He told them:
‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job.’
Trump’s comments to the Russian government officials were quite outlandish and inappropriate for a president to be making. However, it is now coming out that Trump divulged additional top secret information at this meeting, and may have leaked information that could destabilize the entire Middle East, making his comments about Comey actually look tame.
Shockingly, Trump proceeded to tell Lavrov and Kislyak about an important Israeli intelligence operation which was being carried out against ISIS. He bragged to them:
‘I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.’
According to Vanity Fair:
‘It was a covert mission whose details were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security.’
Vanity Fair reports:
‘With an unemotional precision, an ISIS soldier detailed how to turn a laptop computer into a terror weapon that could pass through airport security and be carried on board a passenger plane. ISIS had obtained a new way to cause airliners to explode suddenly, free-falling from the sky in flames.’
Because of this development, Homeland Security officials and eventually British authorities banned passengers traveling from certain Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. Vanity Fair reported:
‘In the secretive corridors of the American espionage community, the Israeli mission was praised by knowledgeable officials as a casebook example of a valued ally’s hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use.’
Vanity Fair then reported about Trump:
‘He quickly went on to share with representatives of a foreign adversary not only the broad outlines of the plot to turn laptop computers into airborne bombs but also at least one highly classified operational detail—the sort of sensitive, locked-in-the-vault intel that was not shared with even Congress or friendly governments. The president did not name the U.S. partner who had spearheaded the operation. (Journalists, immediately all over the astonishing story, would soon out Israel). But, more problematic, President Trump cavalierly identified the specific city in ISIS-held territory where the threat had been detected.’
Whether or not Trump was trying to impress the Russian officials like a highschool boy who boasts about losing his virginity, or whether it was part of a deal he made with Russia, no one knows.
Regardless, it is significant because historically, the U.S. and Israel have been allies and tend to work together, especially where intelligence is concerned. Iran is a strong adversary of Israel, but one of Russia’s greatest allies. Any information like this that is leaked back to ISIS or ends up in the wrong hands, could seriously compromise the relations between the U.S. and Israel, and ultimately the safety of Israeli spies stationed deep within ISIS territory. It could also catapult the Middle East and other parts of the world into further danger.
One senior Israeli military official stated:
‘Trump betrayed us. And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.’
According to Vanity Fair:
‘What further exacerbates Israel’s concerns—“keeps me up at night” was how a government spymaster put it—is that if Trump is handing over Israel’s secrets to the Russians, then he just might as well be delivering them to Iran, Russia’s current regional ally.’
One former CIA operative asked:
‘How can the agency continue to provide the White House with intel, without wondering where it will wind up?’
He went on to say:
‘Those leaks to The New York Times and The Washington Post about the investigations into Trump and his cohorts is no accident. Trust me: you don’t want to get into a pissing match with a bunch of spooks. This is war.’
Mueller is most certainly aware of all of this. Don’t think for a second that he has missed anything.
Here were some reactions on Twitter when it was first disclosed that these leaks may have happened:
Check out this clip:
Featured image by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images