U.S. Allies Probably Withhold Information From Donald Trump to Stop It From Leaking to Vladimir Putin, Intelligence Expert Says

United States allies may be withholding important information from President Donald Trump for fear that he might leak it to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former CIA agent suggested.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, retired CIA officer Steven Hall, who spent years running Russian operations, noted that Trump's fraught relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies might have a negative effect on the way foreign intelligence agencies work with their U.S. counterparts.

"The president's comments are uniquely self-defeating, in that our best hope for monitoring and perhaps modifying the behavior of rogue states such as Iran, North Korea and Russia is working in unison with our partners. Many have already taken note of Trump's cavalier attitude toward sensitive information, as well as his apparent failure to understand the basic rules of intelligence sharing," Hall wrote.

"I would be deeply surprised if many of our best intelligence allies were not already holding back information they would normally pass to their U.S. counterparts, for fear Trump might not be able to keep a secret. (Their concerns might even be darker when they consider the possibility that our president has reportedly discussed sensitive matters with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors with no record of the conversation)," the op-ed continued.

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From left: Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump during the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, on November 30, 2018. Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

The op-ed was written days after Trump publicly criticized U.S. intelligence officials and told them to "go back to school." Last week, the intelligence community released its annual World Threat Assessment, which determined that North Korea and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, continued to pose a threat to the U.S. despite Trump's pronouncements that ISIS had been defeated and that North Korea's nuclear program was no longer a threat to the U.S.

But it was the report's assessment of Iran—which intelligence officials noted has been complying with the nuclear deal that was struck under former President Barack Obama—which really appeared to rile the president.

"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict," Trump tweeted in response to the report.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in May 2018, and European allies are still working to maintain the deal.

As Trump's relationship with his intelligence community deteriorates, his relationship with Russia is being increasingly scrutinized.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign. Many analysts have noted that it is rare and inappropriate for a U.S. president to meet privately with the leader of a foreign adversary without aides or notetakers present. Trump has met privately with Putin on at least two occasions. Congressional leaders recently considered issuing a subpoena to obtain the notes taken by Trump's interpreter during a high-profile meeting he held with Putin in Helsinki in June 2018.

U.S. Allies Probably Withhold Information From Donald Trump to Stop It From Leaking to Vladimir Putin, Intelligence Expert Says | World