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Israel was the source of secret intelligence that Trump gave to Russians, NBC News confirms

  • Donald Trump reportedly disclosed highly classified information to Russian officials last week.
  • Israel was the U.S. ally that collected that sensitive intelligence.
  • The White House has defended Trump's conduct, saying he didn't disclose sources or methods, something that reports did not say he did.

Israel was the U.S. ally that collected the highly classified intelligence that President Donald Trump reportedly shared in a meeting with Russian officials last week, NBC News confirmed with three government officials with knowledge of the matter.

The New York Times first reported the news.

In an off-camera briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he could not comment on the news. The press secretary said, however, that the U.S. appreciates the "strong relationship that we have with Israel when it comes to intelligence sharing."

Late Monday, The Washington Post first reported that Trump had divulged highly sensitive information related to the Islamic State during the meeting. The Times, BuzzFeed and Reuters later confirmed the Post's report.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump defended his conduct in his meeting with key Russian diplomats, calling it "very successful."

Speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a White House visit, Trump said the United States wants to get as many partners as possible involved in the fight against the terror group ISIS.

Legally, the president can share classified information when he wants. But experts have said such disclosures can threaten intelligence gathering and reduce the United States' ability to stop potential threats.

The administration has vehemently defended Trump's actions. National security advisor H.R. McMaster said Tuesday that the president's discussions with Russian officials last week were "wholly appropriate."

But two intelligence officials told NBC News that many in the intelligence community dispute McMaster's characterization, saying that Trump's reveal could make U.S. allies less willing to share intelligence.

McMaster maintained that Trump did not do anything that would compromise national security, He also said that the president was not briefed on the intelligence source and that Trump did not reveal the sources or collection methods. The Post and other versions of the report did not claim that Trump had revealed sources.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk and NBC News contributed to this report.