Trump: ‘Great meeting’ with Russian officials

President Trump said Tuesday he had a “great meeting” with Russia’s foreign minister, but declined to comment on his decision to reveal highly classified intelligence during a White House meeting.

“We had a very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of Russia,” Trump said when asked during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about his disclosures. “We’re going to have a lot of great success over the next coming years, and we want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible.”

The remarks were Trump’s first in-person response to the explosive revelations published late Monday, which have deepened the sense of crisis surrounding his White House. He had earlier ignored reporters’ questions during an Oval Office appearance with Erdogan.

Trump reportedly revealed “code-word information” related to threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that had been provided by a U.S. ally in the region on condition it would not be shared widely within the government or with allies, according to The Washington Post.

{mosads}Trump early Tuesday tweeted that, as president, he wanted to share facts with Russia related to “terrorism and airline flight safety,” something he said he had an “absolute right to do.”

As president, Trump has the authority to declassify almost any piece of information he wants, making it highly unlikely he broke the law.

But Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill said the disclosure could harm intelligence-sharing relationships with U.S. allies and endanger intelligence sources on ISIS.

White House officials have not denied that Trump shared the classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but they have pushed back on the notion the revelation would have negative repercussions for the U.S.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster, who was in the meeting last week, told reporters Tuesday that Trump’s decision was “wholly appropriate,” even though it was made on the spot.

“The president in no way undermined sources or methods in the course of this conversation,” he said, adding that the information could be found in “open-source reporting.”

McMaster said Trump could not have endangered national security because he did not even know the source of the information he discussed.

“The president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from,” he said. “He wasn’t briefed on the source.”

— This report was updated at 1:37 p.m.


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