President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to reportedly divulge classified intelligence to Russian officials during his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—and may have confirmed that Israel was the source of the sensitive information.
“Just so you understand—just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s question about the president’s May 10 Oval Office meeting with Russian officials. “Never mentioned it during that conversation. They’re all saying I did. So, you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”
No one reported that Trump said Israel was the source of the intelligence, which concerned information regarding the so-called Islamic State. In fact, the White House had not confirmed reports that Israel was the source, as Trump appears to do in his answer.
Instead, Trump reportedly revealed pieces of the classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that could potentially allow the Russian government to identify the source of the intelligence.
Russia is an ally of Iran, a country whose government has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.
Trump’s disclosure reportedly put the Israeli spy who was embedded within ISIS at risk. Further, foreign policy and nationals security experts warn that Trump’s move may result in American allies restricting the intelligence they share with the United States.
The president is currently on a nine-day trip abroad, his first as president. Over the weekend, Trump visited Saudi Arabia, and he is currently visiting Israel. He will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday before traveling to Vatican City, Brussels, and Sicily over the next week.