Besieged White House denies, defends as new bombshells hit

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"It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people".

Trump himself claimed the authority to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russian Federation, saying in a pair of tweets he has "an absolute right" as president to do so.

Finally, McMaster said Trump "wasn't even aware of where this information came from", a comment meant to reinforce that the president couldn't have revealed the source but left open the question of why Trump had been kept in the dark on that detail.

The White House denied what was first reported by The New York Times. The Washington Post reported that Mr. Trump divulged information designated at a level above top secret.

Even as Trump's national security adviser insisted the Oval Office disclosure to visiting Russian diplomats was "wholly appropriate" and routine, few people outside of the White House saw it that way. The Kremlin dismissed the reports as "complete nonsense". The U.S. also shares intelligence with countries like Germany that broadly share U.S. national security goals.

But the press secretary said he was "pleased" with Israel's assurances of confidence in its intelligence-sharing relationship with the Trump administration.

McMaster didn't explain how sharing classified information with Russian officials advanced US interests.

"It's always a hard job, but there's no question in my mind the president has made it harder for his immediate staff, which is there to support him", said Ari Fleischer, press secretary to Republican President George W. Bush.

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, also would not comment on the intelligence - but expressed confidence in the nation's relationship with the US.

"What if portions of the USA government say, 'You know what, we'd better not share that up because we don't want to lose access to it, don't want it to be compromised, ' or friends and partners who'd normally share with us, they're concerned about having it compromised?" he said.

Meanwhile the White House, which had tried to hose down the story yesterday, has changed tactics.

Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said the speaker was looking for "a full explanation of the facts from the administration". "As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (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 Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism", Trump wrote in a pair of tweets.

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Current and former USA officials said that Trump went well beyond outlining basic threat information in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

According to United States and diplomatic officials, Israeli intelligence was a source for some of the information about ISIS bomb-making capabilities that the President discussed with Russian diplomats.

None of that explains why the White House was reaching out to the CIA and National Security Agency to let them know what the president had revealed.

The White House has grown suspicious about the volume and timing of the seemingly never-ending stream of leaks about the president, said one senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to reflect on the feeling inside the West Wing.

The official questioned why - if Comey had concerns about his conversations with the president - the Federal Bureau of Investigation director hadn't shared them with the deputy director, the Department of Justice and Congress at the time. "I don't have information I'm at liberty to share", Freeland said.

By nearly 5 p.m., Burr told reporters he still hadn't heard back from the White House. "At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known".

Of course, the USA has had problematic intelligence situations with the rest of the world in the past. He's openly questioned the competency of intelligence officials and challenged their high-confidence assessment that Russian Federation meddled in last year's presidential election to help him win.

Blunt told reporters on Tuesday that he still doesn't think there's any need for an independent special prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaign's ties to the Russians.

The NSA was also at the heart of the Edward Snowden drama, which revealed that the US spied on world leaders, including close allies.

Republican lawmaker Mike Gallagher, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, asked to see the transcript of Trump's conversation with the Russians. At first, the White House pinned the decision on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who'd written a scathing memo about Comey's handling of a probe into Hillary Clinton's use of email.

Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan dined with their US counterparts for foreign affairs and defence - Rex Tillerson and James Mattis.

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