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US intelligence official told Israel Russia had 'leverage' over Trump, says report

Andrew Buncombe

Russia had “leverages of pressure” over Donald Trump, Israeli intelligence officials were reportedly told earlier this year by their US counterparts.

Members of Mossad, the nation’s foreign espionage agency, and other Israeli intelligence officials, attended a meeting at the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, shortly before Mr Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

There, they were told by a senior US intelligence official he believed Moscow had leverage about the man set to become America’s 45th president, according to Vanity Fair.

While the official did not provide specific details, he reportedly told Israel to “be careful” as it was possible sensitive material could be passed to the Russians. Months later, Mr Trump sparked widespread controversy when he revealed highly classified intelligence information during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in Washington.

Earlier this week, Vanity Fair revealed that during that meeting, at which Mr Trump called his sacked FBI Director James Comey a “nut job”, the President told the Russians about extremely sensitive information that revealed details of a covert Israeli operation that exposed Isis’ plans to create new laptop bombs and smuggle them on commercial airliners.

US reporters were barred from the meeting and the only images that documented it were taken by Russia’s TASS news agency.

Two experts told the magazine the operation carried out Israeli intelligence took place last winter. In the operation, two helicopters flew a team of commandos and Mossad operatives into Syria to gain information on a reported new Isis weapon.

They landed some miles from their target and proceeded in vehicles with Syrian Army markings before bugging the Isis cell and getting back out, the magazine said.

The White House has yet to respond to the latest allegations.

At the time it was revealed that Mr Trump had talked about classified information during the meeting in May, the White House denied the President had done anything wrong.

“I was in the room - it didn’t happen,” said Lt Gen HR McMaster, Mr Trump’s national security adviser.

“At no time - at no time - were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”