Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Donald Trump admits he gave info to Russian Federation: 'I had every right'

Donald Trump admits he gave info to Russian Federation: 'I had every right'

President Donald Trump's decision to share classified information with Russian officials has the potential to severely harm the United States' intelligence relationships with allies, a foreign official said.

The bombshell Comey news came as the beleaguered administration was still struggling mightily to explain Monday's revelation that the president had disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and the country's ambassador to the United States.

Fears over the safety of spies and informants have led to questions about allies passing intelligence to the USA after the Washington Post reported that Mr Trump had revealed highly classified information from a U.S. intelligence partner about an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) plot.

Many have noted that Trump, as president, is legally allowed to essentially disclose classified information to whomever he wants. McConnell said he'd read the story first reported in The Washington Post, and also said he'd read a statement from H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, "which tends to rebut the story".

However, McMaster did not make clear if the information was highly classified as the Washington Post reported one day earlier.

"This is not how a White House should operate", Schumer said.

What may be even more damaging, Nephew says, is if allies limit the intelligence shared to "low-level information".

HORSLEY: Well, the concern is that in sharing the information, Trump might have compromised future intelligence gathering operations.

"The president wasn't even aware of where this information came from", McMaster said.

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The Post report relied on anonymous current and former USA officials in its account of the small May 10 Oval Office meeting Trump had with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Republican senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would not discuss Mr Trump's conduct until Congress is briefed by the CIA and the intelligence committee. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel".

If the allegations brought up by the Times are correct, and Israel did give classified information to Trump regarding ISIS, Israeli officials may end up finally acting on the early warnings as fears allegedly brought up by USA officials appear to have been confirmed.

The extraordinary leak of Trump's private conversations in the Oval Office appeared to be a direct outcome of the president's combative relationship with the US spy agencies.

One official said it appeared the transition aides were moving the information from the transition offices to the White House, a distance of just a few blocks.

The president's action drew rare criticism from some Republicans, who are desperate to get the White House refocused on health care and tax changes.

Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday the disclosure would be "very, very problematic" if true.

The US also maintains open intelligence-sharing relationships with allies like France, Germany and Japan. Israel's ambassador issued a statement saying Israel still has full confidence in its intelligence sharing relationship with the U.S.

In January, multiple Israeli newspapers reported that their country's government had been warned by US intelligence officials not to be cautious when sharing information with Mr. Trump because it could be passed on to Russian Federation.

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The person who described the Comey memo to the AP was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"National Security is at risk by leaks like this", said McMaster, who was present at the meeting with Russian officials at the White House.

Though the U.S. president is allowed to declassify and share classified information at any moment, the issue has sparked a huge uproar over whether Trump compromised national security by disclosing the details to Russian Federation, long considered a hostile country to the US.

National security adviser HR McMaster denied the president revealed "intelligence sources or methods", but acknowledged Trump and Lavrov "reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation".

You know, White House staffers and even the president himself just were visibly tired today, and there's some fatigue setting in on Capitol Hill as well.

The information Trump shared was given to the United States by an ally and was not approved to be shared with the Russians. Trump "revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies", the newspaper said, adding that following this, USA officials have gone into damage control mode.

This handout photo released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shows President Donald Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

Comey, who was leading a probe into possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation, was sacked as Federal Bureau of Investigation director a day before last week's White House meeting.

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