President Donald Trump has seemingly confirmed that he gave secret information to the Russians last week.
In a pair of tweets Tuesday morning, Trump once again contradicted top advisers, who only hours before had strongly denied multiple reports that he revealed highly classified information during a visit by the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the White House.
“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,” he wrote is a series of tweets. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
“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. 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,” McMaster said in a press conference Monday evening at the White House.
The Washington Post was the first to report the news, citing current and former U.S. officials who said Trump’s comments to the Russians “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.”
Officials who spoke with the Post said the classified information — which came from another country and included intelligence on ISIS — was considered “so sensitive” that details had been withheld from allies and restricted within the U.S. government.
Two U.S. officials who were briefed on Trump’s disclosures confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the president disclosed classified national security information to Russia’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the visit.
One official said the situation is “far worse than what has already been reported.”
The New York Times also confirmed the Post’s report, citing a current and a former American government official who said that Trump shared details that could expose the source of the classified information and how it was obtained.
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Officials told the newspaper that Trump’s disclosures were about an Islamic State plot. According to the Times, the disclosure did not appear to be illegal but rather a “major breach of espionage etiquette” that could “jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.”
The revelation comes nearly one week after Trump’s controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey. Comey had been leading the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, as well as the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia.
Last week, Trump directly contradicted his top surrogates, who repeatedly said that Comey was fired based on the recommendation of the Justice Department. However, he later told NBC News’ Lester Holt that he had decided to fire Comey before hearing from the Justice Department.
Trump is now facing accusations that he fired Comey in an effort to obstruct the investigation.