Trump had "wholly appropriate" talks with Russian delegation: National Security Adviser
- Author: Salvatore Jensen May 18, 2017,
May 18, 2017, 3:34
But the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is said to be looking into what exactly was shared in that meeting. He used the words "wholly appropriate" nine separate times.
This latest crisis to hit the White House comes on the heels of the firing of Comey, who was overseeing an FBI investigation into the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the USA election.
On Tuesday, Trump said that he had an "absolute right" to share intelligence information with Russian Federation.
McMaster told reporters everything discussed in that meeting was already publicly available.
His action raised fresh questions about his handling of classified information and his dealings with Russian Federation, which is widely considered an adversary by many United States officials and Western allies.
"This is unprecedented", said Kate Martin, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress who has more than 30 years of intelligence and national security expertise.
The Washington Post published an exclusive story Monday alleging that Trump divulged secret information during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The revelations sent a White House accustomed to chaos reeling anew and drew rare serious criticism of the president from some Republicans.
A breach of trust raises the possibility that US friends might curtail such intelligence partnerships out of concern their secrets - and their sources and methods - could end up in the wrong hands.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the intelligence uproar a distraction from GOP priorities such as tax reform and replacing the health care law.
Flynn's resignation came hours after it was reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks earlier that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail for contacts with Kislyak before Trump took office on January 20.
Beyond angering a partner and calling into question the ability of the U.S. to keep secrets, the episode threatened to overshadow Trump's first trip overseas as President.
In a series of tweets Tuesday morning, Trump defended sharing information about Islamic State threats to airline safety with Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week. "Plus", he tweeted, "I want Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism". The Post, citing security concerns, did not go into further detail about what the intelligence said.
McMaster said in a briefing that "the president wasn't even aware of where this information came from, he wasn't briefed on the source or method of the information either".
The White House has also denied reports that Mr Trump personally appealed to then-FBI director James Comey to abandon the bureau's investigation into National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his Russian contacts.
Like many USA allies, the diplomat represents a country whose intelligence agencies work so closely with the U.S. on issues like Syria that it would be very hard to stop that cooperation altogether.
McMaster would not confirm that Bossert made the calls but suggested that if he did, he was acting "maybe from an overabundance of caution".
The New York Times reports that Trump was boasting about the intelligence, an assertion that certainly doesn't appear out of place with Trump's previous indiscriminate handling of classified information.
"The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order".
US officials told the paper the disclosures may have endangered a key intelligence source involved with the campaign against ISIS. "I have people brief me on great intel every day", he said.
The Prime Minister did not give a direct endorsement of the USA president when asked if she had full confidence in him, instead focusing on the relationship between the two countries.
National Security Advisor HR McMaster denied the president had revealed "intelligence sources or methods", but acknowledged that Trump and Lavrov "reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation".
Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan dined with their USA counterparts for foreign affairs and defence - Rex Tillerson and James Mattis.
"Even if President Trump unwittingly blew a highly classified code-word source to the Russians, that would be unsafe enough".
While Trump continues to dismiss as "fake news" investigations of Russian meddling and whether any of his associates colluded in it, the FBI and committees in Congress are pressing ahead with probes.