The Trump administration is firing back hard against allegations that the president shared classified information with top Russian officials.
In two separate briefings, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and press secretary Sean Spicer were making the argument that the president has the last word in determining what classified information is and what isn’t.
Asked if the president can “declassify anything,” Spicer replied, “My understanding is the president, of course, has classification authority.”
The White House’s argument — that the president can pick and choose what is classified and with whom to share it — has raised some speculation in the intelligence community that the administration might be in the process of expanding the intelligence-sharing community of five nations to include Russia.
Known as the “Five Eyes,” intelligence services from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia are bound by what is formally known as the UKUSA Agreement outlining joint cooperation in the gathering, processing and sharing of signals, military, and human intelligence.
The common denominator of the Five Eyes is that all are English-speaking countries. However, the idea of expanding this intelligence-sharing group to a non-English speaking country assisting in the war against ISIS is not new. In 2014, following French President Francois Hollande’s visit with President Obama in Washington, there was considerable discussion of restructuring the Five Eyes to include France.
When asked by Newsmax about expansion of Five Eyes to include Russia, Spicer did not rule it out.
“I would just go back to the point,” he told us, “Whether it's this particular country or any other, it is quite commonplace for us to share information on common threats that our countries face, or two countries face, or a variety of other information. It is a very commonplace thing to occur.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.