President Donald Trump is defending his sharing of information with Russian Federation via Twitter.
"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.
President Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House on Wednesday.
The Washington Post, NY Times and several other outlets confirmed that Trump gave intelligence information gathered from a partner country to the Russians. They said it was considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the US government.
"The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false", said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a brief statement to the press Monday night.
"The president wasn't even aware of where this information came from", McMaster said.
McMaster also did not say whether the president decided in the moment to share the information.
Asked again why the NSA or Central Intelligence Agency would be contacted, McMaster told reporters that he, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy Adviser for National Security Dina Powell were in the room and did not feel that the conversation "was inappropriate". And, in fact, while it is illegal for other government officials to share national secrets, the president can legally declassify material. The country has to know what, exactly, Trump said to the Russians.
But he added: "Our story says that the nature of the information provided would have allowed the Russians to "reverse engineer" to discover the sources and methods". He said Trump discussed a range of subjects with the Russians, including "common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism".
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As Washington debated whether Trump's own disclosures were appropriate, the president in a separate tweet protested news leaks about his administration - presumably in response to the anonymous sources in the Post story.
It's important to note that nobody questions the legal right of the president to reveal whatever classified information he chooses to reveal. Last week, White House spokespeople stepped forward to explain the circumstances under with FBI Director James B. Comey had been fired, pointing to his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation and saying the decision originated in the Justice Department. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was sacked after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with Kisylak.
It's unlikely that Trump has broken any law.
"Our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality", McMaster said, again emphasizing that Trump did not disclose confidential information.
He did not deny that Trump shared classified information with senior Russian diplomats, and he divulged that Trump spontaneously shared details about an Islamic State threat with a country that the USA intelligence community agrees intervened in the 2016 presidential election to Trump's benefit.
In an interview with Adelaide Radio on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to address the claims against Trump directly but did reaffirm his confidence in the relationship between his nation and the US.
Republicans and Democrats alike are voicing frustration, distrust and irritation Tuesday with the constant stream of controversies coming out of the White House.
"The Senate intelligence committee has reached out to the White House to request additional information on recent reports about alleged dissemination of intelligence information", Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, told CNN. They would surely lose their security clearance.
"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", he told Bloomberg Business. Senate Intelligence Committee investigators have had months to advance on investigative journalism that lays out aspects of the same story.
Burkhard Lischka said in a statement to The Associated Press that "if it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters that would be highly worrying". He added that he wants the House intelligence committee fully briefed on what, if anything, was shared with the Russian officials.