President Trump's national security adviser said Tuesday that the president's decision to reveal highly classified information during a meeting with Russian officials last week was "wholly appropriate" — the latest attempt by the White House to contain the explosive disclosure that Trump potentially jeopardized a crucial intelligence source on the Islamic State.
H.R. McMaster, the president's top security adviser, repeatedly described the president's actions in a press briefing just a day after a Washington Post story revealed that Trump had shared deeply sensitive information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last week.
"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’s engaged," McMaster said. "It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people. That’s what he did."
McMaster refused to confirm whether the information the president shared with the Russians was highly classified. However, because the president has broad authority to declassify information, it is unlikely that his disclosures to the Russians were illegal — as they would have been had just about anyone else in government shared the same secrets. But the classified information he shared with a geopolitical foe was nonetheless explosive, having been provided by a critical U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so delicate that some details were withheld even from top allies and other government officials.
McMaster added that Trump made a spur-of-the-moment decision to share the information in the context of the conversation he was having with the Russian officials. He said that "the president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from" and had not been briefed on the source.
"I wanted to make clear to everybody that the president in no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation," the national security adviser said.
McMaster's pushback came just hours after Trump himself acknowledged Tuesday morning in a pair of tweets that he had indeed revealed highly classified information to Russia — a stunning confirmation of the Washington Post story and a move that seemed to contradict his own White House team after it scrambled to deny the report.
You can read the rest at the Washington Post.