President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster pushed back on a report that said his boss had shared ‘highly classified’ information with top Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.
‘The story that came out tonight is false,’ McMaster told a pack of reporters gathered outside the West Wing.
Trump passed on the highly restricted ‘code word’ information during an Oval Office meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the Washington Post reported Monday afternoon.
‘This is code-word information,’ a U.S. official told the paper, referring to the top classification level. The president ‘revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.’
McMaster forcefully disputed the report – although his denial stated the thrust of the Post story to be different than the story that the paper published.
‘The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed,’ McMaster said.
The Post story didn’t say Trump revealed sources and methods – but rather that he passed on to the Russians highly classified information obtained from an ally.
‘The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known,’ McMaster added, something the Post story never contended occurred.
‘Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources,’ McMaster said in closely-watched remarks outside the White House, as reaction and concern rolled in from Capitol Hill.
The information pertained to a terror threat to aviation using bombs contained in electronic devices like laptops.
The flurry of reports and counter-spin prompted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, to warn of a ‘downward spiral.’
‘The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order,’ Corker said, Bloomberg reported. “It’s got to happen,” he said.