by Anna Giaritelli · May 15, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster denied a report that President Trump shared highly classified information with Russian government officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.
“During President Trump’s meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov, a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism,” Tillerson told reporters at the White House Monday evening. “During that exchange, the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”
McMaster attended the meeting and also pushed back against the reports of Trump’s comments to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
“The story that came out tonight as reported is false. 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 and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known,” McMaster said in a press conference Monday evening.
“The record should outweigh the anonymous sources. I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” McMaster added.
Multiple outlets reported early Monday evening that Trump had revealed the Islamic State’s intentions of carrying out a terrorist attack on an airplane by using a laptop computer.
The details of the attack, including the name of the city, were withheld by the Washington Post, at the direction of government officials, but the two Russian officials and their aides were told of the exact location the Islamic State was targeting. Russia could use that detail to determine how America or its ally uncovered the plot.
Trump said the U.S. received the intelligence from an ally who did not give Trump permission to share that information with Russia, an adversary to the U.S.
Last week, European officials said the U.S. was expected to ban laptops on flights over the Atlantic, but the action was never formally announced. It’s not clear if the potential Department of Homeland Security decision is related to the Islamic State’s plot.
Russia is an ally to Syrian President Bashar Assad and has helped his regime fight rebel forces and the Islamic State.
Deputy national security adviser for strategy Dina Powell also attended last week’s meeting and pronounced the reports as false.
“This story is false,” Powell said in a statement. “The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”