Trump defends 'absolute right' to share 'facts' with Russian Federation

Trump shared classified details about the fight against the Islamic State when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kremlin ambassador Sergei Kislyak visited him last week, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Tuesday that he stands by his previous statement on The Washington Post report - he said the story "as reported is false" - adding, "The premise of that article is false that in any way the President had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security".

Israel "has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump", said Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer in a statement. McMaster said the information Trump divulged to the Russians was "wholly appropriate" while speaking to reporters Tuesday.

At the time, discussions "raised fears of a leakage of Israeli intelligence top-classified information, clandestine modus oprandi and sources ... to Russia", Israeli newspaper Yedioth reported.

One of the three, the National Security Advisor HR McMaster spoke to the media saying at "no time had any intelligence sources or methods been discussed".

The disclosures roiled the administration as it struggled to move past the backlash over Trump's abrupt firing on May 9 of FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating potential ties between Russian Federation and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Newspapers there reported in January that USA officials warned their Israeli counterparts to be careful about what they told the Trump administration because it could be leaked to the Russians, given Trump's openness toward President Vladimir Putin.

If true, the breach was ill-timed, coming a day after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. "I don't trust the White House, I don't trust the Washington Post, I don't trust a lot of the pundits from all different sides who just want their political agenda", she said.

The Trump White House has had a chaotic couple of weeks.

But the president also did not specifically say whether he spilled highly classified information to Russian officials.

"The President, by revealing this to the Russians, has lost control of this information".

Russian Federation had earlier dismissed reports first published by The Washington Post, calling it "fake news".

Trump's national security adviser also insisted Tuesday the story was no big deal.

The report, quoting an unnamed USA official, said, "This (the information shared) is code-word information". "If the president outed a highly classified code-word source intentionally, that would be even more risky", Pelosi said.

In a shock twist, the intelligence reportedly came from a United States ally which did not authorise Washington to share it with Moscow, and this could shatter trust that is essential to intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation.

McMaster has previously said Trump and Lavrov "reviewed common threats from terrorist organisations to include threats to aviation".

The disclosure - which appeared to verify the disclosure in a pair of tweets Tuesday morning - is certain to shadow the president as he embarks Friday on his first overseas trip as president.

The White House has looked to Trump's trip overseas as a moment to draw the president out of Washington's hyper-partisan hothouse and put him in a more statesman-like setting.

White House denies Trump disclosed intelligence.

  • Larry Hoffman