Trump defends sharing ‘facts’ with Russia for ‘humanitarian reasons’

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning that he has “the absolute right” to share information with the Russian government, defending himself against bombshell allegations that he shared highly classified intelligence with two Russian diplomats during an Oval Office meeting last week.

The Washington Post reported Monday evening that during last week’s meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and its ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, Trump shared information on an ISIS threat so sensitive that it is unknown to U.S. allies and is tightly controlled even within the confines of the government.

The information allegedly disclosed by Trump is sourced from an intelligence-sharing arrangement with a U.S. partner who did not authorize the president to pass its intelligence on to the Russians, according to the Post, which also reported that his disclosure prompted senior White House officials to place damage-control phone calls to the CIA and NSA.

As president, Trump has the authority to declassify information at his discretion, meaning his alleged actions are unlikely to rise to the level of criminal conduct.

“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. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, breaking his message up into two posts.

Notably, Trump did not dispute any details in the Post’s story and appeared to confirm that he had, in fact, shared some information with the Russian diplomats with whom he met last week. That would seemingly contradict the statement delivered Monday evening from national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who told reporters that “at no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

McMaster also said that “the story that came out tonight as reported is false,” although his statement, too, did not dispute that intelligence itself had been discussed by the president and Russian officials.

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