Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Flashback: John Kelly says aviation threat “keeps me...awake at night”
The classified information that President Trump provided to Russian officials in the Oval Office last week was reportedly related to a terrorist threat to aviation – the same threat that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said keeps him "literally awake at night" last month in an interview with "Face the Nation."
According to The Washington Post, during a May 10th meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, President Trump revealed classified intelligence about ISIS developing bombs in laptop computers.
The details were reportedly so closely held that even close American allies did not know about them, and the source of the intelligence – a U.S. ally – had not been consulted about sharing the information.
The administration rejected the Post's reporting. "The story that came out tonight as reported is false," National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Monday evening.
In a carefully worded statement, McMaster defended his boss's conversation with the Russian officials on May 10.
"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," McMaster said.
However, McMaster's statement did not address allegations in the Washington Post that the president "went off script and began describing details about an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft."
Despite White House denials, sources tell CBS News "something inappropriate" was discussed. The incident was so serious that White House officials reportedly rushed to warn the CIA and NSA to contain the damage, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues.
The administration has conveyed its apparent concern about the terrorist threat to planes, particularly commercial airliners. On the April 23 broadcast of Face the Nation, Homeland Security Secretary Kelly said the threat to aviation "keeps me literally awake at night."
"We know that would be the Super Bowl for the terrorists to knock down an airplane in flight, particularly if it was full of Americans," he said. "We have taken measures overseas to reduce that threat, but it's something I watch every day, ask four or five times a day, because there are a number of plots that we're watching very, very closely. They're very sophisticated. They're very threatening. And the number one thing in my mind is to protect the American people. So, we will do that."