President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said May 16 that Trump did not know where he got the classified information the president reportedly shared with Russian officials.
"The president wasn't even aware of where this information came from," McMaster said at a press conference that day, according to Fox News Insider. "He wasn't briefed on the source."
McMaster also said that he himself was present during the meeting and that he had no reason to believe that any of the content discussed crossed any lines.
"The president in no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation," the adviser explained.
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McMaster went on to add that the controversial information brought up during the conversation could be found through "open-source reporting," which would include publicly available stories such as a news report or social medial post, according to the Associated Press.
After the exchange, Trump was reportedly made aware that he had violated protocol, and top officials notified the CIA and National Security Agency of what had happened in the event that they would need damage control.
"I think the real issue and what I would like to see debated more is that our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality," McMaster said of The Washington Post reporters who first broke the news, according to Insider. "I think national security is put at risk by this leak and leaks like this."
That Washington Post report stated that Trump, sometime during the week of May 8, had shared with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador intelligence concerning potential ISIS threats. The president reportedly spoke in detail about terrorists using laptop computers on airplanes.
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One U.S. official aware of the situation reportedly claimed that Trump had shared details protected under one of the highest classification levels, and that the president had "revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies."
McMaster on May 15 dismissed The Post's story as "false."
"The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation," McMaster explained. "At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly."
The president has the authority to declassify government secrets and The Post noted that it is not likely he violated any law. It is illegal for nearly any other government official to disclose such classified information to adversaries.