Trump Defends Providing Russians With Classified Airline Bomb Plot Intel: 'I Have the Absolute Right to Do So'

Trump tweets 'I wanted to share with Russia...facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS'

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, next to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, next to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House in Washington /AP

U.S. President Donald Trump essentially confirmed the Washington Post's bombshell report about his exposing of highly classified information provided by a close ally to senior Russian officials on Tuesday, tweeting that he has "the absolute right" to share information with who he pleases.

>> The triple blow of Trump's intelligence leak to Russia (Amos Harel)

On Monday, an official said the intelligence discussed by Trump in the meeting with Lavrov was classified "Top Secret" and held in a secure "compartment" to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access. 

After Trump disclosed the information, which an official described as spontaneous, officials immediately called the CIA and the National Security Agency, both of which have agreements with a number of allied intelligence services, and informed them what had happened.

While the president has the authority to disclose even the most highly classified information at will, in this case he did so without consulting the ally that provided it, which threatens to jeopardize what they called a long-standing intelligence-sharing agreement, the U.S. officials said. 

Trump's first agenda item for Tuesday is a phone call with Jordan's King Abdullah. While the White House did not say what Trump and Abdullah will discuss, the very fact that the call is slated and its prominent place on the president's agenda raised speculations that perhaps the ally that was hurt as a result of Trump's conduct was Jordan, a country that plays an important role in the battle against ISIS. 

On the other hand, Jordan is also an important player when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, the planned conversation could just as well turn out to be devoted to Trump's upcoming visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the debate over moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv Jerusalem, or the summit that will take place this weekend in Saudi Arabia during which Trump will meet with a number of Arab leaders.