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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 16:30 PM | 16-05-2017

Trump claims ‘absolute right’ to share info with Russia

President Donald Trump on Tuesday (May 16, 2017) claimed the authority to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia, saying in a pair of tweets he has “an absolute right” as president to do so.

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

The White House has pushed back against those reports, but has not denied that classified information was disclosed in the May 10 meeting between Trump and Russian diplomats. The Kremlin dismissed the reports as “complete nonsense.”

The news reverberated around the world as countries started second-guessing their own intelligence-sharing agreements with the US.

A senior European intelligence official told the AP his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms that Trump shared classified details with Russian officials. Such sharing “could be a risk for our sources,” the official said.

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

On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern about the president’s disclosures. Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., called the reports “deeply disturbing” and said they could affect the willingness of US allies and partners to share intelligence with the US.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the intelligence uproar a distraction from GOP priorities such as tax reform and replacing the health care law.

“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,” he told Bloomberg Business.

Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said the speaker was looking for “a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called for Congress to have immediate access to a transcript of Trump’s meeting with the Russians, saying that if Trump refuses, Americans will doubt that their president is capable of safeguarding critical secrets.

At the White House, Trump said in his tweets, “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. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

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