Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

Defiant Trump says he had 'absolute right' to share information with Russian Federation

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 Defiant Trump says he had 'absolute right' to share information with Russian Federation
Rosalie Gross | 17 May, 2017, 07:42

Trump's tweets tried to explain away the news, which emerged late Monday, that he had shared sensitive, "code-word" information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a White House meeting last week, a disclosure that intelligence officials warned could jeopardize a crucial intelligence source on the Islamic State.

Revelations that Trump revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week prompted one European official to tell The Associated Press that his country might stop sharing intelligence with the U.S.as a result.

Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak one day after firing Comey, who was leading an investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian agents trying to interfere with the USA presidential election.

By doing so, Trump would have jeopardized cooperation from an ally familiar with the inner workings of the Islamic State group, and make other allies " or even USA intelligence officials " wary about sharing future top secret details with the president.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the situation by telling her Facebook followers "not to read American newspapers" that were purposefully creating a "sensation" around Trump's meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak.

The White House trotted out national security adviser H.R. McMaster on Monday night to issue a statement.

The New York Times was first to report Israel was an intelligence source.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern about the president's disclosures. Sen.

McMaster, in a White House briefing, said: "In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he is engaged".

McMaster also said Trump "wasn't even aware of where this information came from".

That was backed up by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who added that Trump "did not discuss sources, methods or military operations". And by Tuesday morning, Trump was justifying his actions, writing on Twitter that he had an "absolute right" to share the information about "terrorism and airline flight safety" with Russian Federation'.

The revelations could further damage Trump's already fraught relationship with US intelligence agencies.

The anonymous officials told the Post that the information Trump relayed during the Oval Office meeting had been provided by a USA partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement.

Two US officials said Trump shared the intelligence, supplied by an ally of the United States in the fight against the militant group, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during a meeting last Wednesday.

One: "People in the Justice Department made a very strong recommendation, the president followed it and he made a quick and decisive action to fire James Comey". The highly sensitive, "code-word" intelligence information had been provided by a USA anti-terror partner on the condition that it not be shared widely within the administration or with other allies.

The Post noted that the president has "broad authority" to declassify information, "making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law".

Trump later was informed that he had broken protocol and White House officials placed calls to the National Security Agency and the CIA looking to minimize any damage. "During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations". The Post said homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert called the directors of the CIA and the National Security Agency afterward. The Russian embassy in the U.S. also refused to comment on the reports. Reporters spent much of the evening camped out adjacent to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office, hoping for answers.

Muffled yelling was heard coming from the area near the room, but after a reporter tweeted about the noise, press staffers quickly turned up their television volume, blasting the sound to drown out everything else.

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