President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that he “never mentioned” Israel in a meeting earlier this month with Russian diplomats during which he reportedly revealed highly classified intelligence.
During a press conference following Trump’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, a reporter asked Trump about the reports of him sharing sensitive Israeli intelligence with Russian diplomats.
Trump then stopped reporters and said, “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel. Never mentioned during that conversation. They’re all saying I did, so you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”
Netanyahu meanwhile called intelligence cooperation between the nations “terrific” and said it has “never been better.”
Initial reports about Trump’s disclosure of highly classified information to the Russians did not allege that Trump cited Israel as the source of the intelligence.
The Washington Post reported that Trump told Russian officials about an ISIS plot to smuggle laptop bombs on planes. While the intelligence reportedly came from a close “Middle Eastern ally” later reported to be Israel, Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump didn’t even know where the intelligence came from when he disclosed it to the Russians.
National security experts have warned that the disclosure could affect allies’ willingness to share intelligence on threats to the US. And Israel was said to have been warned months ago by US intelligence officials not to share classified information with Trump, for fear it might be leaked to Russia.
Here’s video of the moment:
Really confusing moment here where Trump stops the press from being ushered out of his photo spray with PM Netanyahu. Full video—> pic.twitter.com/A7UVcw3Zt2
— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) May 22, 2017