These photos of US president Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian officials last week (May 10) led to raised eyebrows because US media were barred from the event while a Russian photographer were not. Moreover, the photographer was from the state-owned news agency, Tass, which is known for its links to Russian intelligence, leading to worries that the foreign guests could have snuck spying devices into the Oval Office.
Yesterday, it turned out, these were all relatively minor concerns, because this meeting was the one in which Trump gave highly classified information to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
According to the Washington Post, which first reported (paywall) the incident, the intelligence Trump revealed was related to terrorism threats from ISIL and at least some had been provided by another country under an intelligence-sharing agreement. The information was sensitive enough to be kept from some other US allies and tightly restricted within the US government itself.
While the president is allowed to declassify any information he chooses, Trump seems to have told the Russians these secrets without any warning to the country that provided them, and there are fears that in doing so he may have inadvertently compromised its sources. The pictures of him joking and laughing with Lavrov and Kislyak, viewed in the light of this, take on a rather different cast.