The White House National Security Adviser on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump’s move to share intelligence with Russian diplomats in a meeting last week, saying the move was “wholly appropriate,” though adviser H.R. McMaster acknowledged that Mr. Trump did not know the source of the information he passed on.
“It is wholly appropriate for the President to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people,” McMaster told reporters.
Sticking by his assessment of a Washington Post story from last night – “the premise of that article is false” – McMaster repeatedly said the President’s discussion with the Russian Foreign Minister about terrorist threats posed by the Islamic State was appropriate.
McMaster also emphasized a point made earlier in the day by the President, once more criticizing leaks from within the Trump Administration and the Intelligence Community.
“Our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality,” McMaster told reporters.
From the description by McMaster, it seemed as if the President’s decision to share information with the Russians on a specific piece of intelligence was not pre-planned – that the President simply offered it up as part of the discussion in the Oval Office.
On Capitol Hill, the latest big story involving the President was not wearing well with some Republicans.
“Once again we are faced with inexplicable stories coming from the White House that are highly troubling,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), who represents a swing district outside Washington, D.C.
“The reports that the President shared sensitive intelligence with Russian officials are deeply disturbing,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
Democrats did their best to pile on as well.
“This President is creating chaos,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Earlier in the day, the President had acknowledged sharing information with the Russians, but he did not specifically say that press stories were false – or use one of his preferred terms – ‘fake news.’
As concern mounted on Capitol Hill, it was announced that the CIA Director would brief lawmakers tonight on the matter.
The briefing ended on an interesting note, as McMaster told reporters that the President had not been told the source of the information which Mr. Trump passed on to Russian officials.