Trump defends sharing information with Russians
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump is using Twitter to defend his sharing of information with the Russians.
Trump says he wanted to share with Russia "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety." He notes that as president, he has an "absolute right" to do this.
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
The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump divulged highly classified "code-word" information that could enable the Russians to trace the source of the intelligence.
The newspaper cites current and former U.S. officials who say Trump jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on IS in his conversations with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. They say Trump offered details about an IS terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.
The newspaper says the information was very sensitive and had been provided by a U.S. partner.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says no intelligence sources or methods were discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.
Trump added a line in his tweet suggesting why he did it: "Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."
...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
Russia's foreign ministry spokesman has denied reports that Trump revealed classified information to senior officials.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, on Facebook on Tuesday described the reports as "yet another fake."
The reports came several days after the White House faced criticism for a possible security breach after it allowed a Russian news service photographer into the Oval Office to snap photos of Trump with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week.
A senior German lawmaker has expressed concern about the reports.
Burkhard Lischka said in a statement to The Associated Press that "if it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters that would be highly worrying."
Lischka, who sits on the German parliament's intelligence oversight committee, noted that Trump has access to "exclusive and highly sensitive information including in the area of combating terrorism."
The Social Democratic Party lawmaker said that if the U.S. president "passes this information to other governments at will, then Trump becomes a security risk for the entire western world."
Germany is heavily dependent on U.S. intelligence.
A senior European intelligence official tells The Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms President Donald Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.
The official said Tuesday that doing so "could be a risk for our sources."
The official spoke only on condition that neither he nor his country be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.