WASHINGTON (CN) – A day after the White House vociferously denied a Washington Post report that President Donald Trump shared classified information with Russian officials, the president himself took to Twitter Tuesday morning to say he not only shared the information but had every right to do so.
“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,” the president said in a pair of tweets.
Trump’s statement came less than 24 hours after National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster adamantly rejected the Washington Post report about what the president said during a May 10 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“The Washington Post story is wrong,” McMaster said during a hurriedly-arranged press briefing Monday night.
“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the President did not disclose any military operations that weren’t already publicly known,” McMaster said. “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”
McMaster stepped away from the microphone and walked back into the White House without taking any questions.
Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak began generating controversy almost from the moment it began. White House pool reporters were denied access to the meeting, only to find out a photographer from Russia’s state-owned news organization, TASS, was invited into the Oval Office to snap pictures.
While many commentators have said there may not technically be anything illegal about the Trump’s disclosures to the Russians, they do raise the issue of how carefully the president handles classified information.
This is particularly ironic given Trump’s repeated criticism of Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign for her storing classified material on her private email server when she was secretary of state.
Trump repeatedly accused Clinton of being “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information and said that proved she was not fit to be president.