- By Robbie GramerRobbie Gramer is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. He writes for The Cable, FP’s real-time take on all things, well, foreign policy. Before he joined FP in 2016, he used to think in a tank, managing the NATO portfolio at the Atlantic Council for three years. He’s a graduate of American University’s School of International Service, where he studied international relations and European affairs. He has lived in both Washington and Brussels, though he grew up in Idaho and Oregon, so he’s a West Coaster at heart. When he’s not busy reporting, he’s probably busy starting three new books before he has finished the last one or planning a trip to a national park he hasn’t visited yet.
Donald Trump disclosure of top secret Israeli intelligence to top Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office is not without repercussions. On Wednesday, Israeli Defense chief Avigdor Lieberman said his country tweaked its intelligence-sharing protocols with the United States after Trump’s off-script remarks.
“I can confirm that we did a spot repair and that there’s unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States,” Lieberman told Army Radio. “What we had to clarify with our friends in the United States, we did. We did our checks,” he added.
Lieberman didn’t clarify how or to what extent Israel changed how it shares intelligence with the United States. But the comments indicate Israel’s displeasure at Trump’s inadvertent leaks. “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms,” he said.
Trump’s loose-lipped comments came during a May 10 meeting at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak. Trump reportedly went off-script and disclosed top secret intelligence about the Islamic State terror group during the meeting — information that reportedly came from Israel. The revelations sparked outrage among defense and intelligence officials, with furious Israeli intelligence officials shouting at their American counterparts in meetings, as Foreign Policy first reported.
The White House initially denied the reports, but then Trump undercut those denials in one of his infamous Twitter rants. “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” he tweeted.
The latest offshoot of the Trump-Russia scandal came right before Trump’s first major international trip, which included a stop in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s president, seemed willing to sweep the scandal under the rug to welcome Trump and his pro-Israel team with open arms.
But Trump may have compounded the scandal on Monday by appearing to acknowledge the Islamic State intelligence came from Israel. “Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name “Israel” during that conversation. They were all saying I did, so you had another story wrong,” he told a pack of reporters, next to a sheepish-looking Netanyahu.
Photo credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images
Correction, May 24, 2017: Benjamin Netanyahu is the Israeli prime minister. A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to him as the president. Israel’s president is Reuven Rivlin.