Donald Trump said he had the ‘absolute right’ to share information with Russia - hours after sending aides out to brand the rumours ‘fake news’.
The US President was forced to defend himself after boasting about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
Mr. Trump had sent out his aides, including his National Security Advisor HR McMaster, to deny the allegations saying they were “totally false”.
But today Trump took to Twitter to contradict his team’s statements saying he had the “absolute right” to provide classified information to anyone he chooses to.
He wrote: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.
“Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
He then went on to once again attack how the information had emerged demanding “to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community”.
On Monday night, sources revealed Trump had passed on the highly restricted “code word” information during his Oval Office meeting last week with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.
The conversations took place just hours after he had fired FBI Director, James Comey , who was investigating the President’s election campaign team over links to Moscow.
Russia interfered with last November’s ballot to ensure Trump won the White House race.
During the meeting, the President was said to disclose intelligence about an Islamic State plot.
He is said to have told the Russians: “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day.”
One source said the president “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
Today, it led one European intelligence official to warn his country may now stop sharing information with the US if Trump continues to disclose classified material.
Trump’s move is not illegal, as the US president has the authority to declassify information.
The action, however, drew strong criticism from Democrats and a call for an explanation from his own Republican party.
Respected Republican Senator Bob Corker said: “The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order.
“Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening.”
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said that so-called “code-word information” is one of the most highly classified forms of intelligence available.
“It would be almost inconceivable that any president would let something of that nature out,” Mr Leahy said.
As news of the story broke, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s communications team were said to have attempted to drown out shouting from the West Wing with a blaring television before McMaster was hurriedly sent out to defuse the growing controversy.
“I was in the room, it didn’t happen,” McMaster had said.
But the military chief was yesterday said to be furious with Trump’s tweets which undercut his attempt to contain the damaging report.
The White House had trotted out McMaster, along with deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to attack the reports.
The president’s admission follows a familiar pattern.
Last week, after firing Comey, the White House originally claimed the president was acting in response to a memo provided by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
He later said it was his decision.