During a relatively unspectacular news conference this morning, National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMasters delivered the schedule update usually reserved for the Press Sec, then took questions from reporters, which almost exclusively revolved around yesterday’s bombshell report by the Washington Post that classified intel was shared with the Russian team that visited the White House last week. This morning, Reuters independently confirmed the essence of the story.
Yesterday, Gen. McMasters gave a very specific lawyer-like non-denial denial of the story, claiming it was false “as reported,” without refuting that classified information was shared, or the source of the intel with a US partner fighting ISIS. However, this morning, in one of his typical Twitter storms, the president essentially contradicted McMasters, admitting he had “a right” to share intel with the Russians, claiming he wants to work with them to fight terrorism worldwide.
So, this morning the White House initially scheduled a press briefing at 1:30pm EST, then moved it up in the wake of the Reuters’ confirmation to 11:30. It was at this briefing that McMasters danced his best around many questions, saying he felt the revelations were “appropriate,” but never denying it was classified intelligence, or that it was so secret, it hadn’t been shared with all our Five Eyes partners.
“The story combined with what was leaked with other information, then insinuated about sources and methods,” McMasters said of the Post story. “The president in no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation.” This is not an explicit denial of anything in the story. Furthermore, he did acknowledge that some of the details were “public knowledge,” but that belies the fact that someone in this meeting confirmed A had something to do with Z.
In the end, McMasters volunteered a strange defense for something he wasn’t specifically accused of, by saying the president couldn’t have compromised the sources or methods of our operations because he isn’t fully briefed on those things, anyway.
“I should just maybe make this statement here that the president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the method of the information, either.”
Why? He’s the president, isn’t he?
As the briefing ended, you could hear reporters asking, “he wasn’t briefed on the details of the intel?!”
Could it be that in all this, that trump didn’t specifically reveal the source, but possibly requested that information be revealed to his Russian guests during the conversation?
It would sew this up, and answer that small, but important question.
Note: the featured image here is ours to share only because a Russian photographer that was allowed into the meeting shared it on state media, while American press was not allowed into the room. Food for thought.