White House officials staunchly defended President Donald Trump’s disclosure of classified information supplied by Israel, to senior Russian officials.
The President’s administration played down the importance and secrecy of the information, supplied by Israel under an intelligence-sharing agreement, and Trump himself said he had “an absolute right” as president to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia.
National Security Adviser HR McMaster said the president’s comments were “wholly appropriate”. He used that phrase nine times in his briefing to reporters.
The highly classified information about an Islamic State plot was collected by Israel, a crucial source of intelligence and close partner in the fight against some of the America’s fiercest threats in the Middle East.
Trump’s disclosure of the information threatened to fray that partnership and piled pressure on the White House to explain the apparently on-the-spot decision to reveal the information to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office.
In a statement, Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, said the partnership between the U.S and Israel was solid.
Also on Tuesday, it emerged that President Donald Trump personally appealed to ex-FBI director James Comey to abandon the bureau’s investigation into National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to reports.