Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be back in Washington D.C. next week for the first time in two years, according to a report by The Washington Post. The last time Lavrov paid a visit to the nation’s capital, Donald Trump supposedly passed him highly classified information in the Oval Office.
Trump met with Lavrov and Russia’s then-ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, at the White House on May 10, 2017. That meeting came less than 24 hours after the president fired FBI Director James Comey, who was, at the time, leading the investigation into collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The Oval Office meeting was closed to the U.S. press corps, but a Russian state media photographer was allowed in to memorialize the meeting in pictures. According to an earlier report by The Washington Post, Trump told Lavrov and Kislyak that he had relieved “great pressure” on himself by firing Comey.
Also during the same Oval Office conversation, Trump told the two Russians that he was “unconcerned” about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. This was purportedly an operation designed to help the president get elected, according to the report produced by special counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the Russia probe after Comey’s firing. The Mueller report may be accessed online via The New York Times.
But the most controversial aspect of the 2017 Oval Office meeting came when Trump reportedly disclosed “highly classified” information to Lavrov and Kislyak — details about the U.S. fight against the terror threat posed by the Islamic State.
The information volunteered by Trump to Lavrov involved an ally with whom the U.S. maintained a tight, intelligence-sharing arrangement, according to reports at the time. The intelligence disclosed by the president was said to be so sensitive that even within the U.S. government, access to the details was closely restricted.
According to security sources, Trump gave the Russians intelligence about an Islamic State plot to place bombs onboard commercial airliners, concealed in laptop computers. But giving away the intelligence “could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected,” the sources said.
Trump has not yet confirmed whether he will meet with Lavrov a second time during the Russian foreign minister’s visit to Washington next week. The foreign minister is set to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss “Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela and arms control issues,” according to the Washington Post report.