McMaster: 'The President Wasn't Even Aware of Where This Information Came From'

Jerome Frank
May 17, 2017

One of the officials said the intelligence discussed by Trump in his meeting with Lavrov was classified "Top Secret" and held in a secure "compartment" to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access.

Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak one day after firing Comey, who was leading an investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian agents trying to interfere with the USA presidential election.

He cast some of Trump's revelations as information that was available from publicly available "open-source reporting" and added that the president did not know the precise source of the intelligence he had shared, suggesting that Trump could not have compromised confidential sources.

He added that there will be an important debate about Trump's reported "imprudence" in his talks with the Russians, adding that the Kremlin "doesn't have our interests at heart".

According to Panetta, the ally who provided the information that was reportedly relayed to the Russians could cut off any type of intelligence provided to the U.S. in the future.

A senior European intelligence official told the AP his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms that Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.

The official said Tuesday that doing so "could be a risk for our sources".

The U.S. and Western officials spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive information.

Reaction from Capitol Hill Democrats was full-throated.

Just as serious is how partisan cowards entrusted with national security information are anonymously leaking US intelligence to ruin an American president and our democratic system.

The two top Republicans in Congress, which is controlled by the party, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, were muted in their response.

"I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda", said Sen.

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"We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation's secrets is paramount", said the spokesman, Doug Andres, on Monday evening.

In a statement released on the social media site Tuesday morning, Trump said "As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety".

Trump defended himself in a series of tweets Tuesday, saying he had the "absolute right" to share information about terrorism threats with the Russians, but his message notably lacked any reference to whether the information is classified.

Later Tuesday, Trump told reporters he'd had a "very, very successful meeting" with Lavrov.

The White House maintains that Trump did not give away any information about intelligence sources and methods.

On Monday night, both national security adviser H.R. McMaster and deputy national security adviser for strategy Dina Powell called the story "false" but then appeared to more narrowly deny that Trump had revealed any sources or methods. The Post story does not claim that Trump revealed any specific information about how the intelligence was gathered.

Asked why the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency were put on notice if the revelations were not problematic, McMaster cast the notification as being provided "from an overabundance of caution".

Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta called Trump a "loose cannon" Tuesday morning in an appearance on CNN.

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement that the report was rejected by senior USA officials. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel".

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump divulged highly classified "code-word" information that could enable the Russians to trace the source of the intelligence.

The information allegedly disclosed by Trump is sourced from an intelligence-sharing arrangement with a US partner who did not authorize the president to pass its intelligence on to the Russians, according to the Post, which also reported that his disclosure prompted senior White House officials to place damage-control phone calls to the CIA and NSA.

There are three levels of classification of USA intelligence material.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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