According to a Washington Post report on Monday, Trump had disclosed highly classified information in a meeting with Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office on May 10.
According to the report, Trump allegedly shared intel that was supplied by a U.S. partner through a “highly sensitive” sharing arrangement about the fight to counter the Islamic State group. The Trump administration denied the Post’s report late Monday.
Trump has previously spoken out about the sharing of classified information and even lashed out at his rival Hillary Clinton during the race for the White House.
In July 2016, Trump criticized “Crooked” Clinton just one day after then-FBI Director James Comey announced the findings of an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server and her handling of classified information when she was secretary of state.
“Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Not fit!” Trump tweeted on July 6.
Comey said Clinton’s actions were “extremely careless” but the FBI wouldn’t recommend charges against her.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said.
On Tuesday, Trump defended the sharing of information during the meeting, saying he had “the absolute right to do” so.
WATCH: H.R. McMaster says he stands by his comments that a Washington Post story about president Trump leaking classified information was false.
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump said on Twitter. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Trump’s meeting with the Russians came just one day after he fired Comey as FBI director. The FBI has been investigating possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the election.
“I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community…..” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
Trump has also attacked leakers of classified information in the past. In 2013, he lashed out at Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency worker who leaked U.S. government surveillance documents.
“Can you imagine not taking Snowden’s passport away before he jetted happily away to foreign lands (where he gave away many U.S. secrets)” Trump tweeted.
“Snowden has given serious information to China and Russia-anyone who thinks otherwise is a dope! He is a traitor who fled-he knew the crime!” Trump tweeted.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also denied Trump shared classified intel during the White House meeting, saying a range of topics were discussed including “common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.”
The nature of specific threats was discussed, he said, but not sources, methods or military operations.
Trump made a brief comment Tuesday afternoon about the Oval Office meeting.
WATCH: ‘Very successful’ meeting with Russian foreign minister, Trump says
“We had a very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of Russia. Our fight is against ISIS,” Trump said. “As General McMaster said, and I know he feels, we actually had a great meeting with the foreign minister.”
Trump made the comment following a joint press conference with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
“We want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible. And that’s one of the beautiful things that happening with Turkey,” Trump said.
–with a file from The Associated Press
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