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Trump defends his 'absolute right' to share information with Russians

16 May 2017

He also declined to specifically say whether Trump shared information about the location of the ISIS intelligence, saying that the city "was nothing you couldn't get from open sourced reporting". He said that as "an intelligence officer by training, I know firsthand the life and death implications of safeguarding classified information".

"As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (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.

McMaster, however, did not deny reports that the information Trump gave Russia's foreign minister and USA ambassador about ISIS activities at a White House meeting was "highly classified" material that had been shared with the a Middle Eastern government which had not authorized its release.

He reiterated his comments while addressing reporters at the White House later Monday.

President Donald Trump insisted Tuesday he had the right to share information with Russian Federation related to terrorism and other issues, his first public response to the revelation he disclosed classified information at an Oval Office meeting last week.

"As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety, Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism", he tweeted. "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".

Several news organizations, starting with The Washington Post, reported Monday that Trump shared highly classified intelligence during a White House meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "The President only discussed the common threats that both countries faced".

A growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to hand over the transcript of the White House meeting last week in which he revealed highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister and ambassador, according to current and former US officials.

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

Disclosing that type of information is unsafe because it could give the Russian government information about America's sources and methods, which could put lives at risk.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, called the story "false" on Monday. But Mr McMaster said on Tuesday that the president "wasn't even aware where this information came from" and "wasn't briefed on the sources and methods". "I was in the room".

Early responses to the bombshell report indicate that, if true, handling sensitive details in this manner would have broad implications on USA partnerships around the world and could place the lives of agents in the field at risk.

The Post said the intelligence partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russian officials.

He said that he thinks that the "national security is put at risk" by such actions.

The reports by The Washington Post and others drew strong condemnation from Democrats and a rare rebuke of Trump from some Republican lawmakers. "This confuses me to no end".

Later Tuesday, Trump told reporters he'd had a "very, very successful meeting" with Lavrov.

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"He didn't talk about election meddling", the CNN counterterrorism analyst added. "I can't share even I come out of meeting and they ask 'what did you think?"

The potential consequences could hardly be more serious, former Central Intelligence Agency case officer Bob Baer told CNN's Erin Burnett Monday night.

"The President, by revealing this to the Russians, has lost control of this information". He is not just another personality. "He is President of the United States", he said Tuesday on "New Day". Instead, almost all questions were about Trump having supposedly intentionally leaked classified intelligence last week to Russian Federation, which was reported by the Washington Post on Monday night. And while some GOP lawmakers privately express frustration with the president's distractions and crisis-prone administration, there's been little public condemnation of Trump, who remains popular with the GOP base.

McMaster also attended the meeting.

No US media were allowed into the meeting.

Despite White House denials, sources tell CBS News "something inappropriate" was discussed.

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump slammed Hillary Clinton for storing classified information on her private email server.

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