McMaster says what Trump shared with Russian official was 'wholly appropriate'
National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster said the information President Donald Trump shared with top Russian officials was "wholly appropriate," reaffirming his earlier belief that a report suggesting Trump inappropriately revealed highly classified information is "false."
"I stand by my statement made yesterday," McMaster said. “In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate.”
McMaster spoke to White House press after The Washington Post cited a number of unnamed sources who alleged Trump revealed sensitive information regarding the fight against ISIS to both Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 10.
McMaster continued, "the story combined what was leaked with other information and then insinuated about other sources and method. ... The president in no way compromised any sources or methods in this conversation.”
Trump, in a series of tweets, defended his "right" to share information with the Russian officials.
"I wanted to share with Russia (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 Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism," Trump tweeted.
McMaster added, "it was nothing that you wouldn’t know from open source reporting. ... It had to do with operations that are already ongoing and have been for months.”
The White House has not expressly denied that classified information was disclosed in the Oval Office meeting between Trump and Russian diplomats last week. The Kremlin dismissed the reports as "complete nonsense."
The news reverberated around the world as countries started second-guessing their own intelligence-sharing agreements with the U.S.
A senior European intelligence official told the AP his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms that Trump shared classified details with Russian officials. Such sharing "could be a risk for our sources," the official said. The official spoke only on condition that neither he nor his country be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
McMaster said the administration wasn't immediately concerned by Europeans allies teetering on sharing information with the U.S.
This story will be updated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.