Trump: 'I Have the Absolute Right' to Give Information to Russia

President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, at the White House / AP
May 16, 2017

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to defend himself after reports surfaced that he shared classified information with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office last week.

"As President I wanted to share with Russia ... which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety," Trump tweeted on Tuesday.


Trump reportedly shared a Middle Eastern ally's intelligence regarding a plot involving laptop computers by the Islamic State. The unnamed ally, according to the New York Times, "repeatedly warned American officials that it would cut off access to such sensitive information if it were shared too widely."

Trump's disclosure does not appear to be illegal, the Times reported, since the president can declassify almost anything. However, he repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for being careless with classified information through her private email server.

The Washington Post broke the story on Monday:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump's disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump's decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump's meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.