Speaking in front of the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan said he regularly shared classified information with the Russians during his time at the intelligence agency.
"I shared classified information with the Russians while I was director of the CIA. The CIA on routine basis shares classified information with Russians on terrorism matters. It doesn't mean it becomes unclassified, it means that it maintains the classification but is releasable to Russia or other partners so that in itself is not unprecedented," Brennan said.
The comments come after a week of criticism over President Trump's alleged sharing of classified information about ISIS with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a recent meeting at the White House. According to the Washington Post, the President shared the intelligence without permission or vetting from the intelligence community. Brennan backed up that assertion "if press reports are true."
"I don't know what was shared in the Oval Office, but if the reports in the press are true that Mr. Trump decided to spontaniousely share some intelligence with the Russians I think he would have basically violated two protocols. Those two protocols are, one that such intelligence, classified intelligence, is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. It's shared through intelligence channels because it needs to be handled the right way," Brennan said. "He didn't do that, again, if the press charges are accurate."
"Secondly, before sharing any classified intelligence with partners, it needs to go back to the originating agency to make sure that the language in it, even just providing the substance, is not going to reveal sources and methods," he continued.
Legally the President has the authority to share any kind of information, classified or declassified, with anyone he sees fit or necessary. Media reports outed Israel as the source of the information, not the president, which reportedly put the life of an Israel spy working within ISIS at severe risk.
Brennan also slammed leaks about classified information, calling them "very very damaging."