Donald Trump did not know where the intelligence he shared with Russian officials was from, the White House has revealed in an admission that stunned many in an already reeling Washington.
US National Security Adviser HR McMaster made the admission at the tail end of a heated press conference over reports that the president had revealed highly classified national security information to Russian officials.
The intelligence is said to have come from an American ally in the Middle East, via a sensitive intelligence sharing arrangement. But Mr McMaster said on Tuesday that the president "wasn’t even aware where this information came from" and "wasn’t briefed on the sources and methods".
The Washington Post first reported that the president had revealed "code word" level information about Isis plots to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister at a White House meeting last week. The revelation drew outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike, but Mr McMaster defended Mr Trump's actions as "wholly appropriate".
"In the context of that discussion, what the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that investigation," Mr McMaster said.
Under current US law, the president has the power to declassify information as he or she sees fit.
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/11 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests.
2/11 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
3/11 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
4/11 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
5/11 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/11 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
7/11 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
8/11 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
9/11 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
10/11 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
11/11 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
While technically legal, many in Washington believed Mr Trump's disclosures amounted to a breach of foreign information-sharing protocol. A senior European intelligence official told the Associated Press that their country may stop sharing intelligence with the US, citing "a risk for our sources".
Mr McMaster said he had not reached out to any of the US's foreign intelligence-sharing partners on the issue, but was "not concerned” that they would cease operations.
However, the security adviser declined to confirm whether classified information had been shared at the meeting, and whether the president had revealed the location of the plot in question.
"All of you know ISIS," Mr McMaster told reporters. "It was nothing you wouldn't be able to know from open source reporting."
Mr McMaster also revealed that Mr Trump decided to declassify the information "in the context of the conversation" with Russian officials, not beforehand.
Mr Trump, in a tweet sent Tuesday morning, cited "humanitarian reasons" for making the disclosure.
"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," he wrote.
These statements from the president and security adviser contradicted the White House line from the night before, when Mr McMaster stood in the Rose Garden and claimed that "the story that came out tonight as reported is false".
Mr McMaster clarified his comments on Tuesday, saying: "What I’m saying is really the premise of that article is false".
The White House has not denied that the president shared classified information with Russian officials.Reuse content