WASHINGTON – One day after the Washington Post reported President Donald Trump leaked "highly classified information" to top Russian officials, the president defended his right to share "facts" about terrorism and airline safety all in the effort to fight ISIS.
"As president I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled White House meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety," President Trump said in a pair of tweets.
He added that he did it for "humanitarian reasons. Plus, I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."
Was What Trump Did Legal?
The president's tweets come after his meeting Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Trump's disclosure does not appear to have been illegal because the president has the power to declassify almost anything.
Even so, Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman told CBN News, "We don't know exactly what was said, but it certainly raises some legal and ethical questions."
"The president doesn't have the power to violate his oath, to support and defend the United States," he explained. "If he released the information to the Russian officials to get some sort of favor, that would be treason. If he did it to brag or boast, then it could be a constitutional concern."
Seidman says another concern is if the president is just really careless about his handling of important U.S. secrets, noting that Trump has a duty to protect our country from its enemies, and that includes Russia.
During a Tuesday afternoon press conference, the president's national security advisor, General H.R. McMaster, told reporters, "The Washington Post story is false."
"None of us felt in any way that the conversation was inappropriate," he said. "What the president discussed with the foreign minister was wholly appropriate to that conversation. It is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he engages."