US security adviser says Trump did not cause lapse in national security

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Americans should avoid reading USA newspapers if they want to understand what happened during a meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian officials.

The standard for disclosing classified information is different for a president and what Mr. Trump is accused of doing is not illegal.

Trump on Tuesday defended his right to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russian Federation.

The U.S. official said that Trump boasted about his access to classified intelligence in last week's meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak.

"The story that came out tonight as reported is false", General H.R. McMaster said in a briefing outside the West Wing on Monday evening. The opposite end of that defense is this: Trump was talking to two top officials of an adversarial power about highly protected information without having been briefed fully on that information.

White House officials initially denied the report. At first, the White House pinned the decision on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who'd written a scathing memo about Comey's handling of a probe into Hillary Clinton's use of email. Along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe, congressional committees are investigating alleged Russian meddling in the election and whether there was any collusion by the Trump campaign.

European security official speaking with the AP said the move could have an effect on the trust between the USA and intelligence sharing partners. He said Trump's comments "in no way" compromised intelligence sources and methods.

United States lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have voiced astonishment at the allegations, and demanded a full explanation from the White House. "It wouldn't likely stop partners from sharing life-saving intelligence with the Americans, but it could impact the trust that has been built, particularly if sharing such information exposes specific intelligence gathering methods", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about such intelligence sharing.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the USA, said in a statement, reported by The New York Times, that "Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump".

Trump, he said, had been underscoring the need for cooperation in tackling ISIS, even as he pushed Lavrov on the need for Russian Federation to change its behavior in Ukraine and Syria. "I should just make the statement here that the president wasn't even aware of where the information came from", he said.

In his first reaction, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the point on Tuesday that all the turbulence unleashed by the White House was jeopardizing grand Republican plans to exploit congressional majorities.

Becca Glover Watkins, a spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., tells NPR's Geoff Bennett that the committee "has reached out to the White House to request additional information on recent reports about alleged dissemination of intelligence information".

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation", McMaster told The Post.

When contempt for our political foes dictates whether or not we choose to hold some of our nation's most important institutions accountable, the country loses.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, said it's disturbing that Trump discussed any intelligence with officials from Russian Federation, a country under investigation by USA authorities over allegations it interfered with last year's presidential election by hacking Democratic political organizations.

Russia's foreign ministry has also denied the reports.

"That the Russians would be the potential recipients of this intelligence and may be able to determine its source is all the more problematic, since the Russian interest in Syria and elsewhere is, in many respects, deeply antithetical to our own", Schiff said.

There is some disagreement, according to one of the sources, as to how far the President went. "Revealing classified information at this level is extremely risky and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country".

McMaster did focus on the issue of who leaked the information to the Post. "I have people brief me on great intel every day".

To address the specific concerns of US intelligence, the CNN report didn't say that advances in ISIS bomb-making expertise was the primary driver behind the changes in airline security rules.

Lawmakers, including prominent Republicans, are expressing concern about the President's actions and demanding more details from the White House, as broader debate rages over what the episode means for future United States intelligence cooperation with foreign powers, and whether efforts to thwart the ISIS plot may have been complicated in some way.

Trump said he had an "absolute right" to disclose the information, but did not characterize it as classified.

Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, terrorism and airline flight safety.

"I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community." the president added.