Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | Morell

Morell: Intel Sources, Data Could Be at Risk Over Russian Meeting

By    |   Tuesday, 16 May 2017 11:05 AM

If President Donald Trump disclosed classified information to Russian officials during their Oval Office meeting last week, that could create serious implications for intelligence sources, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said Tuesday.

"One is that this particular source, this particular method that provided this highly sensitive intelligence, is now at risk," Morell told "CBS This Morning" anchor Charlie Rose.

"It's at risk from two different sources," he said. "One, the Russians, who will feel the need to investigate the source, will try to figure it out to make sure that this source is not also reporting on their activities in Syria."

The other risk comes from the media coverage itself and the facts that are being dug out about where the information came from, "possibly a Middle Eastern country, that is also putting the source at risk," said Morell.

The news could also make it difficult to gather classified information from foreign allies, as they will "pause and question whether they should continue to do that, if they're afraid the information they're providing could be shared with an adversary of ours and theirs," said Morell.

He does believe the sources will continue to share critically important counterterrorism information if they believe lives are at risk, "but they will express their deep displeasure" and might want assurances about how the information will be shared."

There is some good news following the report, Morell said, as it shows Trump is receiving and paying attention to his intelligence briefings and has absorbed information.

"That was good news for the intelligence community ... but now there's a question raised in their minds again about whether he can appropriately handle that information," said Morell.

There have also been reports that Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about the quality of his intelligence, and Morell said that did not surprise him.

"That's what he does," said Morell. "He plays to his own ego, and boasting to the Russians about the quality of his intelligence and the quality of his intelligence community isn't surprising to me. But that's not what the intelligence community is about."

Morell also said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who Monday night blasted the Post's report as being false, should have stepped in and redirected the conversation.

"Presidents, before they go into a meeting with a foreign official, are given a big thick briefing book that says, 'Here are the issues you can talk about. Here are the issues you can't,'" said Morell. "For the issues you can talk about, here's what you should say, here's what you shouldn't. Clearly the president doesn't pay attention to that. It's McMasters' job to make him pay attention."

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If President Donald Trump disclosed classified information to Russian officials during their Oval Office meeting last week, that could create serious implications for intelligence sources, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said Tuesday....
Morell
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2017-05-16
Tuesday, 16 May 2017 11:05 AM
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