Trump shared highly classified info with Russians - report

The White House says allegations by two US officials that US President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation during their meeting last week are false.

Mr Trump met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week.

The sharing of that information relating to Islamic State put a crucial source with inside knowledge of the terrorist organisation in jeopardy, a source told the Washington Post.

"[Trump] revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies," a second US official said.

Officials say the information was provided by a US partner in an intelligence-sharing arrangement which was so sensitive details have been withheld from allies and restricted within the US government.

Permission hadn't been given for the information to be shared with Russia.

But the White House has dismissed the claims.

"The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced," deputy national security adviser Dina Powell said on Monday (local time).

Reacting to the news, first reported by the Washington Post, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, called Mr Trump's conduct "dangerous" and reckless."

The Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, called the allegations "very, very troubling" if true.

IS threats related to using laptops on planes

During his Oval Office meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump went off-script and began describing details about an Islamic State threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft, the officials told the Post.

While discussing classified matters with an adversary would be illegal for most people, the president has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that Mr Trump's disclosures broke the law, the Post said.

One of the officials said the intelligence was classified Top Secret and also held in a secure "compartment" to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access.

After Mr Trump disclosed the information, which one of the officials described as spontaneous, officials immediately called the CIA and the National Security Agency, both of which have agreements with a number of allied intelligence services, and informed them what had happened.

Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Lavrov and Mr Kislyak at the White House came a day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency's investigation into possible links between Trump's presidential campaign and Moscow.

Asked about the disclosures, Mr Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, who participated in the meeting, said no intelligence sources or methods were discussed that were not already known publicly, the Post reported. 

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organisations to include threats to aviation," Mr McMaster said.

"At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that Mr Trump and Mr Lavrov discussed a broad range of subjects, "among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism."

US officials have told Reuters that US agencies are in the process of drawing up plans to expand a ban on passengers carrying laptop computers onto US-bound flights from several countries on conflict zones due to new intelligence about how militant groups are refining techniques for installing bombs in laptops.

So serious are assessments of the increased threat that Washington is considering banning passengers from several European countries, including Britain, from carrying laptops in a cabin on US-bound flights. The United States has consulted about the intelligence with allied governments and airlines.

Americans want independent Russia investigation - poll

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans, including a growing number of Republicans, want an independent investigation to sort out any connections between Russia and US President Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

The May 10-14 poll, which was conducted after Trump fired Mr Comey, suggests the public is increasingly uneasy with allegations of meddling by the Russians in the US election.

Mr Trump's dismissal of Mr Comey, who was leading the organisation's probe into ties between the White House and Russia, intensified calls by Democrats for an independent probe.

According to Monday's poll, 59 percent of adults, including 41 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats, agreed that "Congress should launch an independent investigation into communications between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election".

That compares with 54 percent of all adults, including 30 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats, who felt that way when the poll last asked the question in February.

Trump supporter questions president's handling of Russia investigation

"I really don't know what to believe anymore," said John Kremer, 74, a Trump supporter from Birmingham, Alabama, who wants an independent investigation. Mr Kremer does not think Mr Trump had any illegal contact with the Russians, but he does not like the way the president is handling the issue.

"If Comey hadn't been fired, I would have been comfortable with the results of their investigation," Mr Kremer said. "My concern now is whether he (Mr Trump) is trying to minimise the investigation."

The poll also found that public confidence in the executive branch and in Congress has eroded since the November 8 election. Thirty-six percent of Americans said they had "hardly any confidence at all" in the executive branch and 43 percent said they felt that way about Congress. That is up from 30 percent and 37 percent, respectively, who answered that way in a November poll.

When asked who should replace Mr Comey, 48 percent wanted an FBI outsider with "credible" experience in law or law enforcement. Thirty-seven percent said they wanted "someone from within the FBI" while 5 percent wanted an FBI outsider who is "close to the Trump administration."

Reuters / Newshub.