Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to provide a transcript of a controversial Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, raising the stakes in an affair that has sent the White House into a tailspin.
Speaking at a press conference in Sochi, Russia, Putin said Moscow could send its records of the encounter — at which Trump is alleged to have shared top-secret intelligence with the Russian delegation — to the US Congress.
The intervention by Putin could turn up the pressure on the White House to provide its own transcript of the meeting. The Senate intelligence committee has already demanded a briefing on what was said at the meeting from members of the Trump administration who were present.
The Trump administration has come under fire over the meeting with Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week. Trump has admitted sharing security information, saying he had the “absolute right” to do so.
Putin denied that Trump had shared intelligence in the meeting, describing the media reports on the issue as “political schizophrenia.”
“We are prepared to go there and explain our point of view to Congress if necessary,” he said.
The Washington Post first reported the allegations on Monday, saying Trump had shared highly classified information. The Post reported that an official with knowledge of the meeting described Trump as saying: “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” just before revealing the intelligence. Two sources told CNN that the information was classifie.
Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak came as the White House deals with a series of scandals linking members of Trump’s team with Russia. The FBI has confirmed it is investigating these links.
The White House has scrambled to respond to the intelligence scandal, at first denying the story, then arguing that it was “wholly appropriate” for Trump to discuss the information with the Russians.
“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the President did not disclose any military operations that weren’t already publicly known,” Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Monday night.
“The premise of that article is false that in any way the President had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security.”