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White House denies Trump shared sensitive intelligence with Russian officials

 (Shcherbak Alexander / Tass)
(Shcherbak Alexander / Tass)

The White House on Monday denied reports that President Trump disclosed high-level intelligence to Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, saying the conversation covered only a range of common threats and did not include operations not already publicly disclosed. 

Speaking to reporters outside the entrance of the West Wing, national security advisor H.R. McMaster said the accounts that he and other officials were present for the meeting with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. "should outweigh" what anonymous sources claim. 

"I was in the room. It did not happen," McMaster said in a brief statement. 

The Washington Post, citing current and former U.S. officials, first reported that Trump discussed information at one of the highest classification levels during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The Post stood by its reporting, and the New York Times reported a similar account soon after the Post.

According to the Post, Trump described specific elements of a threat against the United States that the intelligence community obtained from "a key partner," going so far as to identify the specific location from where the threat -- involving laptop computers taken aboard passenger airlines -- was detected. 

He discussed it while seeming to boast about the quality of information at his disposal as commander in chief.

Before McMaster's hastily arranged statement, the White House distributed to reporters comments by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, deputy national security advisor Dina Powell and him disputing much of the Post's account.

Tillerson said the meeting covered a broad nature of topics, including common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.

"During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations," he said. 

Powell, who also participated in the meeting, flatly called the story false.

"The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced," she said.

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