It marked the latest effort by the White House to rebut a bombshell Washington Post report that Trump allegedly shared highly classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in an Oval Office meeting last week. McMaster didn’t dispute that Trump shared information, but called it “wholly appropriate given the purpose of that conversation.”
The Post reported that Trump passed along intelligence given to the U.S. by a foreign partner in the fight against ISIS without that ally’s permission. McMaster confirmed that Trump discussed a specific city with the Russia diplomats—which intelligence officials said they feared would trace back the sourcing of the intelligence.
McMaster confirmed a key element of the Post report, that Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert reached out to the CIA and National Security Agency after learning of Trump’s conversation to give them a heads up that the sensitive information was discussed. McMaster said Bossert’s calls came “maybe from an overabundance of caution.”
Speaking from the White House briefing room, McMaster criticized the leakers in the story, saying “I think national security is put at risk by this leak and leaks like this.”
McMaster, who issued a statement Monday afternoon denying that Trump discussed sources and methods, and sensitive military operations with the Russians, said he issued that statement because of the nature of the report.
“The story combined what was leaked with other information and then insinuated about sources and methods,” McMaster said.
McMaster abruptly concluded the briefing saying that Trump couldn’t have revealed sources and methods. “The President wasn’t even aware where this information came from,” the national security advisor said. “He wasn’t briefed on the sources and methods.”