On Twitter, Trump Defends Sharing Intel With Russians

The president cited "humanitarian reasons" and the need for Russia to "step up their fight" against ISIS as justification for sharing information.

President Donald Trump talks to reporters during a meeting with Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under President Richard Nixon, in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Washington.

By Liberty McArtor Published on May 16, 2017

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to defend his decision to share classified information with Russian officials. 

A firestorm erupted Monday after The Washington Post divulged the conversation. The report mostly relied on anonymous U.S. officials. They claim Trump revealed “highly classified” information during a meeting last week with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. 

The information “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence” on ISIS, the Post claimed.

Trump declared he has “the absolute right” to share information. 

In two tweets, Trump defended sharing facts “pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.” He said he wanted “Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

He added that he has “been asking Director Comey & others” to find the “LEAKERS” in the intelligence community.

The tweets appear to break from statements of other U.S. officials. On Monday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster seemed to deny the allegations. As the Daily Caller News Foundation noted, McMaster is the only source named by the Post.

“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” he said. Some point out that McMaster’s statement doesn’t technically deny the disclosure of classified information.

Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell denied the Post’s report. “This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” she said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump “did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

In a press briefing Tuesday, McMaster stood by his first statement. “The premise of that article is false,” he told reporters.

McMaster would not say whether the information Trump shared was classified. But he maintained that Trump’s conversation with Russian officials was”wholly appropriate.”

The U.S. president is permitted by law to share classified information at his discretion. 

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