Trump asked Comey to shut down Flynn investigation


Trump had revealed highly classified details to minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the meeting, The Washington Post reported, citing current and former USA officials, who said the presidents disclosures jeopardised a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

Trump said in a pair of tweets Tuesday he had the "absolute right" to share "facts" with the Russians.

Shortly after the Times article was published, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters in a hastily arranged news conference outside the West Wing that the story "as reported" is false.

McMaster explained that Trump didn't even know where the information that he shared with Russian officials had come from, but experts say that the content of the information could help reveal its source.

As a scandal grows over alleged sharing of classified intelligence by President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is willing to hand over a record of the meeting at the center of the controversy. "During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss, sources, methods or military operations".

A third diplomatic source representing a country that shares intelligence with both Russian Federation and the United States told CNN that since Trump's reported revelations seemed to be a mistake, there is less concern than if the information was deliberately shared by the CIA to another country.

During an off-camera press gaggle Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he couldn't comment on the reports that Israel was the source, but he echoed Dermer's statement. Republican Senator John McCain called the reports "deeply disturbing" and said they could affect the willingness of Washington's allies and partners to share intelligence with the US.

Mr Trump took to Twitter to defend his actions, stating he had "the absolute right" to share "facts" with Russian Federation. Israel had not given the USA permission to share the information with Russian Federation.

Jim Jeffrey, a former USA ambassador who served as deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, made a similar characterization: "Whatever the president shared with the Russians beyond the absolute minimum raises the specter that he doesn't get how justifiably outraged Americans are at the hacking of the 2016 election".

But during a meeting after Trump's inauguration, US intelligence officials may have allegedly warned their Israeli counterparts that they believed Russian Federation had "leverages of pressure" over Trump.

Pressed further, McMaster said Trump hadn't been briefed on the source of the information.

Trump did not respond to repeated questions by reporters about whether he had shared classified information, but called the talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "very, very successful".

President Donald Trump personally appealed to FBI Director James Comey to abandon the bureau's investigation into National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to notes disclosed late Tuesday that Comey wrote after the meeting. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel".

He added: "The enemy can very easily identify and recognize where the information came from and start searching for collaborators". But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it was a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardise a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.

"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.

While not unprecedented, it is a rare privilege for a foreign minister to be granted bilateral talks in the Oval Office with a U.S. president.

Also, what about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "reset button", which was premised on the idea of a new era of broad cooperation with the Russians?