Did Trump share classified info with Russians?
McMaster: Trump “in no way compromised any sources or methods” https://t.co/rgDGBEFdBO
— CNN (@CNN) May 16, 2017
The Washington Post reported on Monday that during his Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, President Trump revealed “highly classified” information regarding plans to combat ISIS that had been shared with the U.S. as part of “an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive” that some U.S. allies, and many U.S. officials, had not been briefed on it. And it gets worse, as National Security Advisor McMaster ultimately revealed that Trump didn’t know the source of the information that he was spilling.
When the story broke on Monday, General H.R. McMaster was quick to brief the press, saying the story was false: “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.” And McMaster doubled down (in the above clip), stepping in for press secretary Sean Spicer, at Tuesday’s White House press briefing. When asked if President Trump had passed classified information to the Russians, McMaster parroted his original comments that were not a denial of the Washington Post‘s original story.
“What the president shared was wholly appropriate,” McMaster said. “The story combined what was leaked with other information and then insinuated about sources and methods.” He continued, saying Trump “in no way compromised any sources or methods.”
Although McMaster and others in the White House went into damage-control mode on Monday night, President Trump undercut them anyway, tweeting that he had the “right” to pass information to Russia and did so because he wants Russia’s help fighting ISIS.
Yet as Talking Points Memo points out, McMaster is now moving the goal posts by saying it was OK for Trump to do this in the context of his conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak, even if it was a spur of the moment decision that Trump’s advisors didn’t know about. However, near the end of the briefing, McMaster also said, “I should just make maybe the statement here that the president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either.”
So, there’s that. Until the White House’s story changes.
Watch the full briefing below.