WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump came out swinging this morning in response to a Washington Post report on Monday that he provided classified information to Russia during a meeting last week at the White House (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.57d4272b0b7b).
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism. I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community,” the president continued.
Calling the Washington Post report just another example of “fake news” the Trump administration defended the president’s conversations with Russian officials as “wholly appropriate,” denying claims that the president revealed highly classified information on an Islamic State terror threat at any point to Russian officials.
During an often combative White House briefing on Tuesday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president was not “even aware” of the information he is being accused of sharing with the Russians.
“The president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either,” said McMaster. “What was shared was wholly appropriate given the purpose of that conversation and the purpose of what the president was trying to achieve through that meeting.”
When pressed for a yes or no answer on whether Trump had disclosed any classified information during the course of the meeting, McMaster replied, “We don’t say what’s classified, what’s not classified. What I will tell you again is that what the president shared was wholly appropriate.”
McMaster, who said he was in the room throughout the entire meeting between the president and Russian officials, said as much as members of the mainstream media may like to assert a scandal, there is none on this topic to be found. “The president was emphasizing we have some common interests here. We have to work together in critical areas,” McMaster said. “So this was the context of the conversation in which it was wholly appropriate to share what the threat was as a basis for common action and coordination.”
A spokesperson for the Russian government also came forth on Tuesday to call allegations that Trump inappropriately shared classified information with representatives of their government “completely false”.