McMaster Says Trump Disclosure to Russians Was ‘Appropriate’

Questions Linger as Trump Claims Right to Reveal Secrets

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser again asserted that Trump didn’t jeopardize U.S. national security by sharing intelligence with Russian diplomats, and said the conversation in the Oval Office last week was “wholly appropriate.”

“I stand by my statement that I made yesterday,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters at a White House briefing on Tuesday. “What I’m saying is that the premise of that article was false.”

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Trump revealed to Russia’s foreign minister and U.S. ambassador highly classified details from a U.S. intelligence partner about an Islamic State plot. The “story that came out tonight as reported is false,” McMaster said on Monday at a hastily arranged appearance outside the White House that lasted less than a minute.

“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known,” he said. The Post story, however, didn’t allege that Trump revealed sources or methods, nor did it say he disclosed military operations.

McMaster said on Tuesday that “what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate for that conversation.”

“I’m not concerned at all” that U.S. allies might stop sharing intelligence after Trump’s disclosure, he added.

He refused to describe what Trump told the Russian diplomats, or acknowledge that classified information was shared with them.

Trump on Tuesday claimed an “absolute right” to share information about terrorism with Russian officials, even as some lawmakers in both parties expressed alarm over the reports.

“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,” Trump said in a series of tweets on Tuesday. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

According to the Post, the intelligence, involving information about an Islamic State plot to use laptop computers as possible weapons aboard commercial aircraft, had been provided by a U.S. ally with access to the inner workings of the terrorist group. The Post said the level of detail Trump disclosed may enable the Russians to identify the source or method of gathering the information.

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