Mattis ‘not worried’ about Trump sharing intel

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WASHINGTON (AP) Developments on Tuesday, May 16, about the report that President Donald Trump shared classified information with Russian officials (all times Eastern Daylight Time).

  • 5:15 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he was “not worried” that President Trump disclosed classified information during discussions in the Oval Office a week earlier with senior Russian leaders.

He said he has had discussions with three allies since that White House meeting, including two who are NATO members, and the issue “never even came up.”

Mattis said he doesn’t have any details about Trump’s conversation. He spoke briefly with reporters outside the Pentagon after the new Air Force secretary was sworn in.

The administration defended Trump’s talks with the Russians as “wholly appropriate.” Trump said he was sharing facts related to terrorism and airline safety.

The revelations have drawn sharp criticism from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and raised questions about Trump’s handling of classified information.

  • 4:40 p.m.

The New York Times reported the classified intelligence the president divulged to the Russian officials was provided by Israel.

The Times cited current and former U.S. officials familiar with how the U.S. obtained the information about an Islamic State plot.

Trump is to travel to Israel in the coming week on his first foreign trip abroad. In a statement, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said Israel has “full confidence in our intelligence sharing relationship with the United States” but he did not comment specifically on the veracity of the Times report.

  • 4:30 p.m.

The chairman of the Senate intelligence committee said he wants to talk to one or more of the administration officials who were at the meeting between Trump and Russian officials in which the president shared the information about an Islamic State threat.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said he wants to give the administration a chance to explain what happened. He said a president can share intelligence, although never things like sources and methods.

He said he doesn’t know if there was a transcript of the May 10 meeting, but somebody made notes.

Burr and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., talked to reporters after a closed meeting of the committee.

  • 2:45 p.m.

Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer said unauthorized leaking of sensitive or classified information is “frankly dangerous,” after the president reportedly shared classified information with two Russian diplomats.

Spicer said during a White House briefing the unauthorized leaks were a threat to U.S. national security.

He drew a distinction between leaks and Trump’s conversation with the Russians, saying the discussion with the Russians involved shared threats to the U.S. and Russia.

A U.S. official said Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting about an Islamic State plot.

  • 2:00 p.m.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Burr said he has yet to get an explanation on what happened in the Oval Office meeting between the president and the Russians.

Burr said he waited all morning to get a call from someone who was in the room who could tell him what happened. “Maybe they’re busy,” he said.

“My major concern right now is that I don’t know what the president said,” Burr told a small group of reporters in the Capitol. “I’d like to think somebody from the White House who was in the room is going to get on the phone and tell me what they said.”

  • 1:30 p.m.

The president ignored questions about whether he revealed classified information to Russian officials during his Oval Office meeting with them.

Trump was asked about the disclosures after delivering statements alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said only that he had a great meeting with the Russian foreign minister  and the U.S. wants to get as much help to fight the Islamic State and terrorism as possible.

  • 1:20 p.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the president’s comments to Russian officials at the White House “undermined the trust that other countries will have with in us in terms of sharing their intelligence.”

Pelosi’s comments came as House lawmakers returned to the Capitol after a week off. Pelosi led a congressional delegation to India and Nepal.

Pelosi said Democrats would try to force a House vote on establishing an independent commission to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections and whether there was collusion from Trump associates.

Democrats were expected to distribute a discharge petition about it on Wednesday. The tactic rarely succeeds because it requires a majority of the House to sign the petition. “What are the Republicans afraid of?” she asked.

  • 12:30 p.m.

President Trump’s national security adviser said the president didn’t know where information he shared with Russian officials came from.

H.R. McMaster didn’t deny that Trump had discussed information deemed classified. But McMaster told reporters the information was available through “open-source reporting.” That typically refers to reporting that’s publicly available, such as news accounts, academic reports, or social media.

McMaster said Trump hadn’t been briefed on the source or method of the information.

Trump was later informed that he had broken protocol. Administration officials then reached out to the National Security Agency and the CIA in an effort to contain any damage.

McMaster identified Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, as the official who contacted both agencies.

  • 12:17 p.m.

The No. 2 Democrat in the House said Donald Trump’s presidency is “dangerous.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters that stories of Trump revealing classified information to top Russian officials was just the latest example of an  administration riven by incompetence, chaos, confrontation, and conflicts of interest.

“I think there is an erosion of confidence among the American people and an erosion of confidence of the international community,” Hoyer said.

He added that it was too early to consider impeachment proceedings against Trump, but “it is time for Republicans to say, ‘enough.'”

  • 12:06 p.m.

National security adviser McMaster said information the president shared with the Russians was “wholly appropriate.”

McMaster said Trump’s revelation “in no way” compromised intelligence sources and methods.

He did not deny that Trump discussed classified information.

Trump sent a tweet earlier that he had the authority to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia.

Trump’s tweets did not address whether he revealed classified information about the Islamic State group, as published reports have said and as a U.S. official told The Associated Press.

  • 12:03 p.m.

McMaster stood by his statement denying a Washington Post report that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials.

Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, McMaster said the “premise of that article is false.” He added Trump did not have a “conversation that was inappropriate or resulted in any kind of lapse in national security.”

He said the real threat to national security was leakers “releasing information to the press.”

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump shared classified information with Russian officials that jeopardized an intelligence source.

“I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” McMaster told reporters.

  • 12:01 p.m.

The Royal Court said Jordan’s King Abdullah II and President Trump spoke by phone about the fight against terrorism and crises in Syria and the rest of the region.

Jordan is a key ally in the U.S.-led international military coalition against the Islamic State group, which controls territory in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The Royal Court said arrangements for the phone call between Trump and Jordan’s king were made a week earlier.

  • 11:50 a.m.

The Senate intelligence committee reached out to the administration to request additional information on recent reports about alleged dissemination of intelligence information.

Rebecca Watkins, a spokeswoman for committee chairman Sen. Burr, said the committee wanted to know more about reports of the president’s Oval Office conversation with two Russian officials.

  • 10:45 a.m.

The Senate’s top Democrat said Congress needed to have immediate access to a transcript of that White House meeting between the president and senior Russian officials.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said if Trump had “nothing to hide,” he would turn over unedited transcripts to the House and Senate intelligence committees. If Trump refused, Schumer said Americans will doubt that their president was capable of safeguarding critical secrets.

Congress is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including hacking Democratic emails.

  • 10:40 a.m.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said the reports about the president revealing highly classified information to senior Russian officials were “deeply disturbing.”

He said it sends a troubling signal to U.S. allies and partners around the world. McCain also said in a statement that stories that the information was provided by a U.S. ally and shared without the country’s knowledge could mean that other countries won’t share intelligence with Americans in the future.

He said the time Trump spent sharing sensitive information was time he did not spend focused on Russia’s aggressive behavior, including interference in elections, and its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

  • 9:35 a.m.

The Senate’s top Republican said “we can do with a little less drama from the White House” so Republican lawmakers could focus on advancing the party’s legislative agenda.

Appearing on Bloomberg Business, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., responded to reports about Trump’s meeting a week earlier with a couple Russian leaders.

“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda,” McConnell said. That agenda, he said, included deregulation, tax reform, and repealing and replacing the health care law.

McConnell also said he recommended to Trump that he nominate Merrick Garland to replace fired FBI Director James Comey. Garland, the federal judge nominated to the Supreme Court last year by President Barack Obama, was denied a Senate hearing by McConnell.

  • 9:15 a.m.

President Trump said more attention should be paid to find who was leaking information to the media.

The Washington Post first reported that Trump’s closed-door remarks with the Russians jeopardize a valuable intelligence source on the Islamic State group.

Trump defended himself in a tweet by writing he had an “absolute right” to share what he wanted.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump said he had asked ousted FBI Director James Comey and others “from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community.”

  • 9:25 a.m.

A senior European intelligence official told The Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirmed President Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.

The official said doing so “could be a risk for our sources.”

The official spoke only on condition that neither he nor his country be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

  • 8:25 a.m.

A senior German lawmaker expressed concern about the published reports of President Trump revealing highly classified information about the Islamic State group to Russian officials.

“If it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters that would be highly worrying,” Burkhard Lischka said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Lischka, who sits on the German parliament’s intelligence oversight committee, noted that Trump has access to “exclusive and highly sensitive information including in the area of combating terrorism.”

The Social Democratic Party lawmaker said if the U.S. president “passes this information to other governments at will, then Trump becomes a security risk for the entire western world.”

Germany is heavily dependent on U.S. intelligence.

  • 8:25 a.m.

A Russian government official dismissed reports that President Trump shared classified information with Russian officials as “complete nonsense.”

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the reports as “yet more nonsense” and said President Vladimir Putin doesn’t “want to have to do anything with it,” adding that “there is nothing to confirm or deny.”

  • 7:25 a.m.

Trump used Twitter to defend his sharing of information with the Russians.

He wrote he wanted to share with Russia “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.” He noted that as president, he has an “absolute right” to do this.

The Washington Post reported Trump divulged highly classified “code-word” information that could enable the Russians to trace the source of the intelligence.

Trump added a line in his tweet suggesting he did it for “humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

  • 6:40 a.m.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman denied reports that Trump revealed classified information to senior Russian officials.

Maria Zakharova posted on Facebook the report was “yet another fake.”

  • 3:30 a.m.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t comment on the Washington Post story or say whether it would affect Australia’s intelligence-sharing agreement with the U.S.

Australia is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing program with the U.S., Canada, Britain, and New Zealand.

Turnbull declined to comment specifically on the report, but said during an interview with Adelaide radio station 5AA that he was confident in the Australia-U.S. alliance. Turnbull called it “the bedrock of our national security.”

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee said in a statement a resolution to the situation in Syria would require a concerted effort from the U.S. and Russia. Brownlee said he hoped the meeting between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was “a step towards that.”

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