WH: Someone ‘Selectively Leaking Information … to Create a Narrative’ Should Be a Concern

By Melanie Arter | May 16, 2017 | 7:24 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that the American people should be concerned that someone is “selectively leaking information and facts” about the Trump administration to “create a narrative” and further an agenda.

During an off-camera gaggle, Spicer was asked several questions about a Washington Post report that said President Donald Trump inappropriately shared classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a Russian ambassador during a White House visit last week.

 



Earlier in the day, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster addressed the report, saying that the president shared information that was “wholly appropriate” at the time, but that the president wasn’t “briefed on the source or method of the information.”

“So, two questions. First, in this meeting with the Russians at the White House, why was the president’s first inclination to want to share sensitive information rather than, for instance, to press them on meddling in the U.S. election, which we saw all these intelligence officials agree just last week was something that Russia certainly did?” a reporter asked.

“Well, I think to presume that -- I mean, that conversation is still private, and to just assume what was and wasn’t discussed would not be accurate. I’m not going to get into the contents of that,” Spicer said, “but I also think that, again, we’re missing what was shared and the purpose.  

“There was a discussion about a shared aviation threat. As General McMaster pointed out, they had an airplane that was taken down in some way in October of 2015, in which over 200 lives were lost. They shared and discussed a shared threat that our two countries have and a concern that we have. I think that is extremely appropriate,” the press secretary said.

“And secondly, one of the knocks against this administration has basically been that you guys do things in a sloppy manner and that makes stories like this worse. So when you look at the way this played out -- yes, we routinely share information, but we routinely share information that is sensitive with our allies. We don’t routinely share sensitive information with the Russians,” the reporter said.

“So I guess, did you guys take the proper procedures to let intelligence agencies know ahead of time that you wanted to share this information -- that the president did -- with Russian officials? Or did he just make the call on the spot, and was that the reason that Bossert made these calls afterward to the CIA and to the NSA? And was this a learning experience in any way for this administration about following protocols to ensure you guys don’t get the kind of headlines next time that you did this time?” the reporter asked.

“Well, number one, to make any assumptions about what was shared, what wasn’t shared, and what processes were or were not followed would be highly speculative. Number two, as I’ve said repeatedly, the information that was shared was on a common threat and one that we both have a shared goal in eradicating,” Spicer said, referring to ISIS.

“So to suggest that -- which I think is the nut of the question -- why wouldn’t we want to share a common threat and the efforts that both countries are taking to eradicate a threat that we both feel?

“But there’s no indication that you guys went through the proper protocols,” the reporter asked.

“Hold on, with all due respect, you have no understanding of that. For you -- and I’m not -- but to sit back and say, because it hasn’t been leaked out -- I mean, that’s the nature of the leak,” Spicer said.

“Somebody is selectively leaking information and facts, and there’s a reason it’s selective; it’s because they’re trying to create -- you know, and again, for me to guess why -- but at least it appears as though somebody is trying to create a narrative or a problem,” he said.

Spicer complained that there is “a pattern of people releasing sensitive information” to further an agenda.

“But to further suggest that somehow because you get one piece of a puzzle, that you know what the entire puzzle looks like -- even to suggest that that piece is accurate, which, in this case, you’ve heard our position on that - but this is clearly a pattern of people releasing sensitive information to further what appears to be someone’s agenda,” he said.

“And I think that, again, the president has raised this. Several people in the administration have raised this, but the idea that there is no concern or seemingly no concern over something like this being put out in the open I think is, frankly, concerning. And it should be to every American that we have information of a sensitive and classified nature that is being sent out into the open,” Spicer added.