Trump says he had ‘absolute right’ to share data on 'flight safety & terrorism' with Russia
In a tweet, Trump said he had an “absolute right” to discuss these matters with Russia, noting that the conversation was held at an “openly scheduled” White House meeting.
The “facts” discussed included terrorism and airline flight safety, according to Trump, who noted that he wants Russia to “greatly step up their fight” against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
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....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
...to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
Trump sent out the tweets after a Washington Post story accused him of revealing highly classified information to Russian officials during last week’s Oval Office meeting.
"We had a very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of Russia," Trump said on Tuesday, answering a question at a White House event with Turkish President Recep Erdogan. "We want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible. And that's one of the beautiful things that happening with Turkey."
The claims in the Washington Post have been refuted by multiple White House officials, including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
“The premise of that article is false,” McMaster told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, adding that Trump shared information with the Russian foreign minister in the way that was “wholly appropriate” to the discussion about IS threats.
The president was never briefed on the source of the information he shared, McMaster added.
Breaking News: Israel provided the intelligence that President Trump shared with Russia, officials said https://t.co/3vkJ0DRZsH— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 16, 2017
While Trump himself did not disclose the source of the intelligence, the New York Times did so on Tuesday, citing 'current and former US officials' to report that the information came from Israel.
The Post story – which cited unverifiable sources and unnamed current and former officials – claimed that Trump disclosed “code-word information” related to IS during the May 10 meeting.
The information was allegedly disclosed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
The report claims the information had been obtained from “a US partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement,” and was not authorized to be shared with Russia, the US’ allies, or even within much of the US government.
Trump and his staffers have been repeatedly accused of having ties to Russia, allegations which the White House denies.
Later on Tuesday, the Kremlin dismissed the Washington Post allegations, saying the story included nothing worth discussing.
“This is not a topic for us. It’s nonsense," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “We do not want to have anything to do with this nonsense. This is utter nonsense and it is not something to either confirm or deny,” Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the report as part of a coordinated effort to put pressure on the Trump administration.
"This is another attempt to exert pressure on the new US administration and make deals related to various political appointments and lobbying. We can’t even say now that the media are biased because they are openly carrying out a political order," the diplomat told Kommersant FM.
Senate investigators are currently looking into the alleged ties, though Trump's critics are calling for an independent investigation into supposed communications between Moscow and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey last week, admitting that "this Russia thing" was on his mind when he made the decision. Comey had been leading an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's advisers and Russian officials when he was abruptly fired.