LIVE: H.R. McMaster, not Spicer, to deliver White House briefing (5/16/17)
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster briefing will be at 11:30 a.m.
WASHINGTON – The daily White House press briefing with Sean Spicer is scheduled to begin around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Spicer will have much to discuss as the last 24 hours have been quite busy in Washington.
UPDATE: National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster briefing will be at 11:30 a.m. Watch it live here. No on-camera White House briefing by Spicer.
Here's what's going on in Washington D.C. today.
Trump defends sharing 'terrorism' facts with Russians
President Donald Trump defended revealing information to Russian officials, saying in a pair of tweets Tuesday that he shared "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety" and had "the absolute right" to do so.
Trump was responding to reports Monday that he revealed highly classified information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, putting a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk.
But Trump tweeted that he shared the information for "humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."
Trump says he wanted to share with Russia "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety." He noted that as president, he has an "absolute right" to do this.
The reports by The Washington Post and others drew strong condemnation from Democrats and a rare rebuke of Trump from some Republican lawmakers. White House officials denounced the report, saying the president did not disclose intelligence sources or methods to the Russians, though officials did not deny that classified information was disclosed in the May 10 meeting.
The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation," said H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser. "At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also disputed the Post report. He said Trump discussed a range of subjects with the Russians, including "common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism." The nature of specific threats was discussed, he said, but not sources, methods or military operations.
The Post, citing current and former U.S. officials, said Trump shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The ambassador has been a central player in the snowballing controversy surrounding possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia's election meddling.
The anonymous officials told the Post that the information Trump relayed during the Oval Office meeting had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement. They said it was considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.
The New York Times and BuzzFeed News published similar reports later Monday.
Russia's foreign ministry spokesman denied the report. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, on Facebook on Tuesday described the reports as "yet another fake."
The revelations could further damage Trump's already fraught relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies. He's openly questioned the competency of intelligence officials and challenged their high-confidence assessment that Russia meddled in last year's presidential election to help him win. His criticism has been followed by a steady stream of leaks to the media that have been damaging to Trump and exposed an FBI investigation into his associates' possible ties to Russia.
The disclosure also risks harming his credibility with U.S. partners around the world ahead of his first overseas trip. The White House was already reeling from its botched handling of Trump's decision last week to fire James Comey, the FBI director who was overseeing the Russia investigation.
A European security official said sharing sensitive information could dampen the trust between the United States and its intelligence sharing partners. "It wouldn't likely stop partners from sharing life-saving intelligence with the Americans, but it could impact the trust that has been built, particularly if sharing such information exposes specific intelligence gathering methods," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about such intelligence sharing.
The revelation also prompted cries of hypocrisy. Trump spent the campaign arguing that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be locked up for careless handling of classified information.
The Post said the intelligence partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russian officials. By doing so, Trump would have jeopardized cooperation from an ally familiar with the inner workings of the Islamic State group, and make other allies -- or even U.S. intelligence officials -- wary about sharing future top secret details with the president.
Afterward, White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency, the newspaper said.
The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment Monday evening.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concern about the report.
GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters the Trump White House "has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and order." He described the White House as "on a downward spiral."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York also called the story "disturbing," adding, "Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country."
The controversy engulfed the White House. Reporters spent much of the evening camped out adjacent to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office, hoping for answers. At one point, an eagle-eyed reporter spotted a handful of staffers, including Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, walking toward the Cabinet Room.
German lawmaker questions Trump as security risk
A senior German lawmaker has expressed concern about reports that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about the Islamic State group to Russian officials.
Burkhard Lischka said in a statement to The Associated Press that "if it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters that would be highly worrying."
Lischka, who sits on the German parliament's intelligence oversight committee, noted that Trump has access to "exclusive and highly sensitive information including in the area of combating terrorism."
The Social Democratic Party lawmaker said that if the U.S. president "passes this information to other governments at will, then Trump becomes a security risk for the entire western world."
Germany is heavily dependent on U.S. intelligence.
European country might halt US intel-sharing
A senior European intelligence official tells The Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms President Donald Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.
The official said Tuesday that doing so "could be a risk for our sources."
The official spoke only on condition that neither he nor his country be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
White House: Blame cyberattack on hackers, not spy agencies
President Donald Trump's homeland security adviser has a message to those blaming U.S. intelligence agencies for the cyberattack encircling the globe: Don't point a finger at the National Security Agency. Blame the hackers.
Since Friday, malware has infected an estimated 300,000 computers in 150 countries. Users' files at hospitals, companies and government agencies have been held for ransom.
Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers used a hole in Microsoft software that was discovered by the National Security Agency. The hole was exposed when NSA documents were leaked online.
Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, laid some of the blame with the U.S. government, criticizing U.S. intelligence agencies for "stockpiling" software code that can be used by hackers.
"We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability, stolen from the NSA, has affected customers around the world," he said.
Tom Bossert, Trump's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, defended the NSA, the lead U.S. signals intelligence agency.
"This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data," Bossert told reporters Monday. "This was a tool developed by culpable parties -- potentially criminals or foreign nation-states."
Russian magnate sues AP over story on Trump campaign ties
A Russian billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin is suing The Associated Press for defamation over a story about his connections to a former Trump campaign chairman.
Aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska filed a federal defamation and libel lawsuit Monday over the March 22 story about his business ties with Paul Manafort.
Deripaska says the article is inaccurate and hurt his career by falsely accusing him of criminal activity.
The AP's general counsel, Karen Kaiser, says the news organization stands by its story and will defend itself.
The AP reported that before signing up with Donald Trump, Manafort secretly worked for Deripaska with a plan to "greatly benefit the Putin government."
The story was based on interviews with people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP.
McConnell says GOP could use 'less drama'
The Senate's top Republican says "we can do with a little less drama from the White House" so the GOP can focus on advancing the party's legislative agenda.
Appearing Tuesday morning on Bloomberg Business, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was responding to reports that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about the Islamic State group to Russian officials.
McConnell says, "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 said the agenda is deregulation, tax reform and repealing and replacing the health care law.
McConnell also says he recommended to Trump that he nominate Merrick Garland to replace fired FBI Director James Comey. Garland, the federal judge nominated to the Supreme Court last year by President Barack Obama, was denied a Senate hearing by McConnell.
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