Former intelligence community leaders blasted Donald Trump over reports the president revealed highly classified information to the Russian ambassador and Russian foreign minister during a meeting last week, with one Bush-era official calling it potential “treason.”
Monday night, the Washington Post reported that Trump divulged classified intelligence during an Oval Office meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The information reportedly pertained to the Islamic State, and included identifying details, including the territory in which the intel was collected.
Despite a series of denials from the White House Monday about that Washington Post report, the president on Tuesday all-but-verified that he divulged information to those Russian officials, insisting in a tweet that he wanted “to share with Russia… facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.”
Eliot Cohen, who worked in the State Department under George Bush, called the report “appalling,” insisting “it would be a firing offense for anyone else” besides Trump.
"If deliberate, it would be treason,” Cohen added.
Wayne White, a senior Bush-era intelligence officer, argued the president crossed a “red line” with his disclosure.
“There are red lines that even presidents are not supposed to be crossing,” White told Politico. “He has to be protecting his own assets. It is really frightening for our people, especially the people who managed the relationship in getting the information.”
"It is another indication that you cannot possibly control this guy,” White noted.
Steve Aftergood, who works for the Federation of American Scientists, called the president’s behavior “reckless and thoughtless.”
“It is not a legal issue. It is a question of competence and national security awareness. If the story is accurate the president fell short in those vital areas," Aftergood said.