Trump Asked Comey To Shut Down Flynn Investigation, Reports Say

Report that Trump leaked classified intel is false, national security adviser says

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for more information about reports that Trump gave intelligence information to the Russians, a spokeswoman for the panel said.

President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, a current and a former American government official said yesterday.

"As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation ... which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety", he tweeted Tuesday. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president's comments were "wholly appropriate". We heard today from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who says Republicans are not concerned with the president's handling of classified information. The House is fresh off of an 11-day recess and is devoting the week to mostly symbolic, feel-good legislation created to show support for law enforcement. "Our allies might not trust us with important intelligence information if they feel we can not safeguard what they have shared with us". "He wasn't briefed on the method or source of information".

Typically, before disclosing intelligence to another country, there would be an evaluation of costs and benefits, close consultation with the US intelligence community, and detailed consideration of how much to say and in what words so as to mitigate risks. One official said Trump and other senior staffers did not plan to "publicly throw him under the bus", but there is a sense of deep frustration at him for sounding the alarm and "freelancing", as one official described it, by alerting national security officials to the President's message to the Russians.

Republican US Representative Jason Chaffetz, chairman of a House of Representatives oversight committee, said his committee "is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists".

The official said the information was provided to the U.S.by Israel.

Other key points brought up by McMaster during the press briefing included his concern that the leak to the Post about what went on inside closed doors between foreign officials and the president could have potentially hurt national security.

But top White House officials were evidently aware that the disclosure might constitute a misstep.

In a statement, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said the partnership between the U.S and Israel was solid.

But other nations appeared to be reconsidering.

A US president has the authority to disclose even the most highly classified information at will, but USA and allied officials said by giving information to Russia, Trump had endangered cooperation from an ally that has intelligence on Daesh.

Palestinian president hopeful after talks with Trump
The issue of stipends for families of Palestinians killed or jailed in the context of the conflict with Israel is sensitive. Three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.

"That way, they can take steps to protect sources and methods", said Steven Pike, a former State Department official who teaches at Syracuse University. Still, it will only heighten Trump's strained relations with intelligence workers and former officials, who view Russian Federation as an adversary.

Lawfare got into more of the potential problems, like the possibility of this disclosure violating the president's oath of office and of it raising the stakes over whether Trump records conversations in the Oval Office and for his Federal Bureau of Investigation director pick.

The information appears to be related to the basis for a US and British decision in March to bar laptops and tablets from being carried on board worldwide flights from cities in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.

A USA ally provided the information, the official said, meaning it wasn't necessarily Trump's to share with anyone else.

"In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he is engaged", McMaster said.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concern about the report.

Still, the revelation could complicate US relations with a top ally in the Middle East and a partner in fighting terrorism ahead of Trump's first trip overseas as president, which kicks off Friday in Saudi Arabia.

"What I'm saying is really that the premise of that article is false, that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security", he said.

Trump ignored reporters' questions about whether he disclosed classified information. Officials refused to answer specific questions, including what precisely the report had gotten wrong, ensuring it would dominate a week that White House officials hoped would be quiet in advance of the president's first foreign trip.

NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now from the White House. The communications team, in particular, has come in for sharp criticism from the president, as well as his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

President Donald Trump watches Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan depart the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017.

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