Donald Trump says he has 'absolute right' to share intelligence with Russia

Donald Trump Declares ‘Absolute Right’ To Share Intelligence With Russians

President Donald Trump has said that he has an “absolute right” to share intelligence information with the Russians. He made the declaration in a series of tweets early on Tuesday morning.

In the tweets, Trump effectively walked back initial attempts by his administration to deny a Washington Post report that he shared “highly classified” information with the Russians during a meeting in the Oval Office last week.

“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 & terrorism.”

The Washington Post report published on Monday claimed that during last week’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, Trump made disclosures that “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”

The alleged classified intelligence information originated from a source that was so sensitive that it was not shared even with U.S. allies, the Washington Post reported.

The Post said it refrained from reporting the intelligence information that Trump shared with the Russians at the urging of officials who warned that disclosure of the information could compromise U.S. intelligence capabilities.

However, NBC News reported that a source revealed the information was related to previous alerts that ISIS was planning to use laptops to carry out terrorists attacks on airplanes.

Mainstream media news outlets and members of Congress — Democrats as well as Republicans — expressed concern and shock about the Washington Post report. GOP Senator Bob Corker (R – Tenn.), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, declared that the Trump administration was in a “downward spiral.”

“Obviously, they are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” Sen. Corker said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

After the Washington Post first reported that the Trump administration had shared highly classified intelligence information with the Russians, Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, denied the report. H.R. McMaster said he was present at the meeting and that “at no time were sources or methods discussed,” although the Washington Post report did not say that Trump divulged “sources or methods” to the Russians, as the Huffington Post noted.

Relying on the denial by top administration officials, pro-Trump and conservative news sites sought to cast aspersions on the Washington Post report although it was corroborated by the New York Times.

Some readers on the pro-Trump news website Brietbart labelled the report as “fake news.”

Politico reported that Charles Johns, “a prominent internet troll close to the administration,” dismissed the report as “total b******t.”

He claimed that the Washington Post was being used by elements within the intelligence community loyal to the former CIA Director John Brennan to post negative information about the Trump administration.

“They [the Washington Post] were exposed as a CIA message board a long time ago,” said Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice Media and a Trump supporter, according to Politico.

But later, when Trump admitted that he had shared classified information with the Russians and tried to justify his action by saying he had the “absolute right” to do so, Breitbart and other conservative news outlets, including Fox News, simply accused the mainstream media of “hysteria” and suggested that the leaked information was not as sensitive as the mainstream media portrayed it.

Breitbart went on to blame the “deep state” for the “hysteria,” saying that it (the “deep state”) leaked the “classified info to Washington Post to smear Trump.”

Breitbart’s take that the “real story” was about who leaked the classified information that Trump discussed with the Russians to the Washington Post, was in line with Trump’s tweet on Monday morning that one of the reasons why he dismissed Comey was that he failed to act on repeated requests to find the “leakers” within the intelligence community.

The latest “bombshell allegation” comes after the White House drew flak for allowing a photographer for a Russian state news agency to cover the Oval Office meeting while reporters from U.S. news organizations were barred.

President Trump has accused the mainstream media of publishing misleading and damaging stories about his administration. He recently threatened to cancel daily White House press briefings “and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy.”

[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]