Trump claims 'absolute right' to share info with Russia

Geneva Matthews
May 17, 2017

In another way, this was less a revelation and more a confirmation of what we already knew about Trump and his communications style.Whether on important issues, such as the Comey firing, or on more trivial matters, such as Trump's inaugural crowd size or the continued existence of a Trump-branded steak business, neither President Trump nor his representatives can be trusted.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won't comment on a Washington Post report that President Donald Trump revealed classified information to Russian officials, or say whether the report will affect Australia's intelligence-sharing agreement with the U.S.

The turmoil has overshadowed Republican legislative priorities such as healthcare and tax reform and laid bare sharp divisions between the White House and US intelligence agencies, which concluded in January that Russian Federation had tried to influence the election in Trump's favor.

"I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled WH meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining.to terrorism and airline flight safety".

"Regrettably, the time President Trump spent sharing sensitive information with the Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia's aggressive behavior, including its interference in American and European elections, its illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, its other destabilizing activities across Europe, and the slaughter of innocent civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria", McCain said in a statement Tuesday.

McMaster said in a briefing early Tuesday afternoon, "It was nothing that you would not know from open source reporting".

"Obviously, they're in a downward spiral right now and they've got to come to grips with all that's happening", he said of the White House.

In Washington, Republicans for the most part were cautious about attacking Trump over the reports. He's emphasizing here that presidential authority gives him the right to share such information - which is broadly true - in a way that betrays the kind of information that was shared.

The Post story - which The New York Times confirmed but NBC News has not - did not report that Trump shared sources and methods, but that sharing information provided by an ally with the expectation of secrecy threatened future intelligence-gathering operations.

One senior North Atlantic Treaty Organisation diplomat quoted by Reuters said: "If true, this is not going to instil confidence in allies already wary of sharing the most sensitive information".

On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern. Sen.

McMaster said the information shared did not put the U.S.at risk but suggested that the leaks that lead to the story could ultimately pose a threat.

The two top Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were muted in their response to Trump giving information to Russian Federation.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called for Congress to have immediate access to a transcript of Trump's meeting with the Russians, saying that if Trump refuses, Americans will doubt that their president is capable of safeguarding critical secrets.

Trump tweeted that he had "the absolute right" to share information "pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety" with Russian Federation.

Trump added a line in his tweet suggesting why he did it: "Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism". Brownlee said he hopes the meeting between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov "is a step towards that".

During a May 10 meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, Trump began describing details about an Islamic State terror threat, according to current and former U.S. officials. "There are conflicting reports about whether or not President Trump disclosed sensitive information to the Russians".

Reports said that Mr Trump later was informed he had broken protocol and White House officials placed calls to the National Security Agency and the CIA in move to try and minimise any damage.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, would not say which country's intelligence was divulged.

Asked why the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency were put on notice if the revelations were not problematic, McMaster cast the notification as being provided "from an overabundance of caution".

The Post claims it did not reveal all the details of the disclosures from its sources because US officials said this would "jeopardize important intelligence capabilities".

On the House side, CIA Director Mike Pompeo is expected to brief that chamber's intelligence committee on Tuesday on Trump's apparent leaking.

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement that the report was rejected by senior USA officials.

"I have great confidence in our alliance", Turnbull said.

"I read The Washington Post story and I read General McMaster's response, which tends to refute the story, rebut the story", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday morning.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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