White House Defends Trump’s Sharing ISIS Information With Russia

National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday stood by his denial of a press report that President Trump revealed classified information during his Oval Office meeting last week with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S.

“I stand by my statement that I made yesterday,” McMaster said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “And what I’m saying is 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.”

He also charged that the leaks of Trump’s conversations are much more of a national security threat, an argument Trump himself has made several times already in his young administration.

“And so I think the real issue, and I think what I’d like to see really debated more, is that our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality and those releasing information to the press that could be used connected with other information available to make American citizens and others more vulnerable,” McMaster said.

Pressed on whether Trump shared classified intelligence with the Russians, McMaster said: “So what we don’t do is discuss what is, what isn’t classified. What I will tell you is in the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was appropriate to that conversation, and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he’s engaged.”

McMaster wouldn’t say if the information, as the reports said, came from an intelligence partner of another country.

“I’m not going to be the one to confirm that sort of information that could jeopardize our security,” McMaster said.

McMaster also said he’s not concerned other intelligence partners will stop sharing information.

“I’m not concerned at all,” McMaster said. “That conversation was wholly appropriate to the conversations and I think wholly appropriate with the expectations are of our intelligence partners.”

Before ending his briefing, McMcMaster added: “I should just make maybe the statement here that the president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.

The story, published by the Washington Post, said Trump went into detail when informing Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about the Islamic State’s intentions of carrying out a terrorist attack on an airplane by using a laptop computer.

The information was not U.S. intelligence to share, anonymous officials said in the story, potentially risking this source for ISIS intel in the future. The ally, the story said, had not given permission to share the information with Russia.

After the report surfaced Monday, McMaster told reporters: “During that exchange, the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

The story, however, didn’t say Trump discussed those three things with the Russians.

Asked Tuesday why he denied something that wasn’t in the report, McMaster said the Washington Post drew some links that weren’t there. “The story combined what was leaked with other information and then insinuated about sources and methods, so I wanted to make clear to everybody that the president in no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation,” McMaster said.

White House Defends Trump’s Sharing ISIS Information With Russia

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