Trump claims 'absolute right' to share info with Russia

Erika Turner
May 17, 2017

The blowback from the electrifying report that President Donald Trump shared highly classified information with Russian leaders during an Oval Office meeting has been intense.

"The President, by revealing this to the Russians, has lost control of this information". "But in a larger sense, they are the custodians of the secrets that need to be kept for the sake of USA national security".

"It wouldn't likely stop partners from sharing life-saving intelligence with the Americans, but it could impact the trust that has been built, particularly if sharing such information exposes specific intelligence gathering methods", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about such intelligence sharing.

White House officials initially denied the report. One of his subordinates called for that portion of the discussion stricken from internal memos and circulation of a transcript limited to prevent sensitive details from being further distributed, the newspaper said. "What I'm saying is really the premise of that (Washington Post) article was false, that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or resulted in any kind of lapse in national security". He used the words "wholly appropriate" nine separate times.

The disclosure put a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the disclosure on Monday.

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump slammed Hillary Clinton for storing classified information on her private email server. He said that during that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations. Surrogates at his campaign rallies led chants of "lock her up!"

"Given the gravity of the matter, we need to be able to quickly assess whether or not this report is true and what exactly was said".

"We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation's secrets is paramount", said Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The White House has looked to the trip as a moment to draw Trump out of Washington's hyper-partisan hothouse and put him in a more statesman-like setting.

For Trump's already tired allies in Congress, the latest crisis brought more headaches and demanded yet more explanation from an administration that is struggling to leave its legislative mark. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters at the Capitol.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told CNN he was "deeply" troubled by Trump's sharing of the information. "That's what we got to figure out".

"If it's accurate, it would be troubling", said Sen. He said it may make USA allies more wary of sharing secrets.

"Codeword" information-like what is referred to in the Washington Post report (and since been confirmed by Buzzfeed, the New York Times and Reuters)-refers generally to this highly sensitive, compartmentalized (and sub-compartmentalized) information.

"It's time we knew the full extent of his relationship with the Russian government. The Senate Intelligence Committee should be briefed on this important issue immediately".

Such a leak could jeapordize the espionage capabilities of human intelligence sources on the ground in the Middle East.

The White House has looked to Trump's trip overseas as a moment to draw the president out of Washington's hyper-partisan hothouse and put him in a more statesman-like setting.

Jonathan Lee was Deputy Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security from 2015-2017.

A senior U.S. official told AP that Trump shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

For the leader of Senate Republicans, the biggest concern is that the controversy over Trump's sharing of secrets - with the successor to what Republican President Ronald Reagan once labeled the "evil empire" - is that it's distracting lawmakers from their legislative program.

Bloomberg's Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis, Jennifer Epstein, Stepan Kravchenko and Nafeesa Syeed contributed.

Other reports by Insurance News

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