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Trump claims 'absolute right' to share info with Russia

Trump claims 'absolute right' to share info with Russia

"It's alarming if President Trump is exposing highly sensitive classified info to adversary".

The president's tweets came after denials about the story from top White House officials.

Trump himself claimed the authority to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russian Federation, saying in a pair of tweets he has "an absolute right" as president to do so.

Trump wrote that he was motivated by "humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism".

The national security adviser pointedly did not deny central aspects of The Post's reporting - that US officials were alarmed that Trump had divulged "aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of" an allied nation, which had not given permission for its intelligence to be shared with Russian Federation, and "revealed the city in the Islamic State's territory where the USA intelligence partner detected the threat", which could help Russian Federation identify the source of the intelligence and possibly disrupt it in support of the Syrian government.

The White House's botched handling of Trump's firing last week of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the bureau's Russian Federation probe, and the president's own volatile statements about his actions are also likely to raise questions among allies about the USA leader's standing. Sergey Kislyak last Wednesday, even though Russian Federation is not a partner in the intelligence-sharing arrangement from which the information originated.

The Post, citing unnamed officials, said Trump went off script during the meeting, describing details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes, revealing the city where the information was gathered.

The New York Times and BuzzFeed News published similar reports later Monday.

This handout photo released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows President Donald Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. He said that during that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.

As the Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake pointed out, McMaster's statement focused on denying things that The Post had not reported - that Trump had discussed intelligence sources or methods directly with the Russians or had disclosed military operations that were not already publicly known.




Shortly the story broke Monday night, McMaster addressed reporters, saying "I was in the room. It didn't happen", added McMaster. But it was an attempt at saying the story was false, and Trump isn't following that line.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said it would "be very troubling" if Trump shared sensitive information with the Russians, and said the Senate Intelligence Committee "should be briefed on this important issue immediately".

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation", McMaster said.

The Post cited unnamed current and former US officials with knowledge of the exchange, who said they recognized that it jeopardized intelligence capabilities.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also disputed the report. Western allies, including Britain and Germany, have also been wary of Trump's warmness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was kicked out of the summit of leading economic powers after Moscow's annexation of territory from Ukraine.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern. Sen. Chris Murphy and Oregon Sen.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information and use of a private email server while secretary of state were key points of criticism by Trump and the GOP during last year's campaign.

In a shock twist, the information reportedly came from a United States ally who had not authorized Washington to share it with Moscow, a potential blow to intelligence relationships based on trust that secrets will be kept.

The intelligence disclosed was held by the United States at one of the highest classification levels that would typically prevent it from being shared even with allies, according to the Post.

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