TRUMP SAYS HE HAD ‘ABSOLUTE RIGHT’ TO SHARE INFO WITH RUSSIA

Washington -President Trump pushed back on an explosive story in the Washington Post that he shared classified information with members of the Russian government during a meeting last week, arguing on Twitter that he had an “absolute right” and engaged in the discussion for “humanitarian reasons.” Trump did not characterize the information as classified, but rather “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline safety.” The White House called the Washington Post story “false.” “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 to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS and terrorism,” Trump wrote in a two-part tweet.

According to The Washington Post, the nature of the information was related to an Islamic State terrorist threat and gathered by a United States intelligence partner.

The report notes that Trump disclosed the information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last Wednesday, despite Russia not being a member of the intelligence-sharing arrangement from which the information originated.

As president, Trump possesses the legal power to declassify information, but officials worry these reported disclosures to the Russians could jeopardize this intelligence-sharing operation.

In its denial Monday, the White House said that intelligence sources and methods were not discussed in Trump’s dialogue with the Russians.

“The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation,” said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

“At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.” “I was in the room, it didn’t happen,” added McMaster.

“This story is false.

The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” Dina Powell, the deputy national security adviser for strategy, said in a statement.

Neither McMaster or Powell specifically addressed the allegation that the president revealed classified information or the possibility that he may have jeopardized an intelligence-sharing operation.

Earlier in the day, McMaster ran into a group of reporters gathered in the White House seeking comment on the story.

“This is the last place in the world I wanted to be,” said McMaster, who then left without answering questions.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who met with Lavrov at the State Department prior to the foreign minister’s visit to the White House last week, released an additional statement on the situation.

“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counterterrorism,” said Tillerson. “During that exchange, the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”(QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency

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