President Donald Trump on Tuesday all but admitted that he revealed “highly classified” information while meeting with Russian officials last week, contradicting his administration’s earlier attempts to deny the story.
Early Tuesday morning, Trump proclaimed that he has “the absolute right” to share any information he wants:
The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump “jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State” with disclosures to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. The Post said it wasn’t reporting what the president told the Russians, “at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.”
The president also indicated he’s eager to determine who gave information to reporters.
In disputing the story, McMaster told reporters that “at no time were sources or methods discussed.” But the Post’s story did not report that Trump revealed sources or methods.
The bombshell allegation, which drew concern from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, came amid intense scrutiny over the president’s ties to the Russian government.
The day before his meeting with the Russians, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency had been investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.
The White House also faced criticism for allowing a photographer for a Russian state news agency to cover the Oval Office meeting, while members of the American press were barred.
The president has frequently lashed out at major media outlets that have published damaging stories about him, including The New York Times and CNN. During a rally last month, he railed against the “fake news” media and called the press “dishonest.” He also has called for changes to libel laws to allow him to more easily sue news organizations.