National security adviser denies report Trump shared intelligence with Russian diplomats

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National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser is denying a report that claims Trump shared highly classified intelligence about Islamic State militants with a top Russian diplomat.

The Washington Post, using unnamed sources, asserted Monday that President Trump revealed highly classified information about Islamic State militants to Russian officials during a meeting last week, an allegation that prompting strong condemnation from both Democrats and Republicans.

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But National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters in a brief statement that The Washington Post report "is false" and "at no time" were intelligence sources or methods discussed during Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"The story that came out tonight as reported, is false," McMaster said in a the very brief statement on the grounds of the White House. "I was in the room, it didn't happen."

Citing current and former anonymous U.S. officials, the Post said Trump shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
Three White House officials who were in the May 10 meeting strongly denounced the story, saying no intelligence sources and methods were discussed - but they didn't deny that classified information was disclosed.

McMaster said the president did not discuss details that were not already known publicly.

The anonymous officials told the Post that the information Trump relayed during the Oval Office meeting had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement. They said it was considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation," McMaster said. "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."

He said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy, remember the meeting the same way.

"Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources," McMaster said.

Tillerson said Trump discussed a variety of subjects, including "common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism." He said that during that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.

Powell said: "This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced."

The Post story does not claim that Trump revealed any specific information about how the intelligence was gathered. Still, it will only heighten Trump's strained relations with intelligence workers and former officials, who view Russia as an adversary.

If true, the breach was ill-timed, coming a day after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with Kisylak.

It's unlikely that Trump has broken any law. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concern about the report.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters the Trump White House "has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and order."

"The shame of it is there's a really good national security team in place and there are good, productive things that are under way through them and through others," Corker said. "But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline - it's creating an environment that I think makes - it creates a worrisome environment."

Rep. Adam Schiff of California called the story "deeply disturbing" and said if it's true, the disclosure could jeopardize sources of very sensitive intelligence and relationships with key allies.

"That the Russians would be the potential recipients of this intelligence and may be able to determine its source is all the more problematic, since the Russian interest in Syria and elsewhere is, in many respects, deeply antithetical to our own," Schiff said. He added that he wants the House intelligence committee fully briefed on what, if anything, was shared with the Russian officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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