White House insists Trump's disclosures 'wholly appropriate'

Lawmakers quickly reacted, with Democrats slamming Trump and even some Republicans questioning his judgment.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said "the story that came out [Monday] as reported is false".

General McMaster, who was in the room alongside the USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson, said the men had discussed "a range of common threats to our countries including threats to civil aviation".

In other words, American citizens are in the position of hoping that our president turns out to have been too illiterate to have compromised his access to information about the terrorist fanatics who want to kill us on airplanes. "That's what he did". While Trump's leaking is technically legal, as the president has the right to declassify information, his doing so hardly seems to comport with the spirit of the law. The long-standing adversaries sometimes alert one another to security threats, but otherwise engage in little if any intelligence cooperation.

"Sharing classified info to one of our enemies is a threat to our national security, troops on the ground & relationships w/ trusted allies", the congressman wrote.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, said it's disturbing that Trump discussed any intelligence with officials from Russian Federation, a country under investigation by US authorities over allegations it interfered with last year's presidential election by hacking Democratic political organizations. The nature of specific threats was discussed, he said, but not sources, methods or military operations. At least some (although apparently not all) of the information Israel gave the us about the plot was so secret that it was not shared with our other closest allies, such as the United Kingdom and Canada.

The Times reported that, according to a current and a former American official, it was information that Israel relayed to the United States. Another senior Republican, Senator John McCain, said in reference to the allegations Trump divulged U.S. secrets to the Russians that "if it's true, it's obviously disturbing". "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".

"If that partner learned we'd given this to Russian Federation without their knowledge or asking first, that is a blow to that relationship", a U.S. official told the Washington Post.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also disputed the report.

In a statement to the Times, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said Israel "has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump". The FBI concluded after an investigation a year ago that there were no grounds to pursue any charges against Clinton.Trump departs on Friday for his first overseas trip as president, travelling to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium on visits that will test his foreign policy skills.

For Republicans earlier in the day, there was a sense in the Senate that the talking points coming from the White House were shifting - and that if senators went out on a limb to defend Trump, the president might just saw off the branch.

Other Republicans, however, expressed concern.

Officials told CNN that the U.S. intelligence on the laptop bombs was shared with the so-called "Five Eyes" countries, the term used for the five anglophone nations - the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - whose intelligence agencies coordinate closely. They were apparently referring to what was published Wednesday about embarrassing information collected by the Russian intelligence in a bid to blackmail the president-elect.

On Tuesday, McMaster shifted how he characterized the Washington Post story.

Who was in the meeting?

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump should release the alleged transcript "if [he] has nothing to hide". It's not about impeachment; it's not about how much this bad story will hurt the White House's credibility with the American people or the press (assuming that it has any credibility left in the bank); nor is it even about Trump making mistake after mistake after mistake. For another, as mentioned above, few of our allies have more reason to fear the prospect of their intelligence sources and methods leaking to Russian Federation, given Putin's alliance with Iran. But that raised the question of why his own aides had felt it necessary to place calls to the leaders of the CIA and National Security Agency to alert them to what Trump had disclosed. "This story is false", deputy national security adviser Dina Powell said Monday in a written statement.

  • Jacqueline Ellis