Five Takeaways from Gen. H.R. McMaster Press Briefing

Here are five key points made by Gen. H.R. McMaster in the press briefing held on Tuesday morning.

1. McMaster said that what President Donald Trump did was “wholly appropriate” and “consistent” with past practices of the executive branch. McMaster said the “premise” of the Washington Post story was false, meaning the implication that Trump did something wrong or inappropriate, but McMaster did not refute specific facts as reported.

2. McMaster said the president made the decision to provide the information during the conversation (not before the meeting).

3. McMaster implicitly said yes to a question about whether the president shared the name of the city from which the ISIS threat was detected – he claimed the location was publicly available and obvious information of sources of ISIS’s threat. The Washington Post reported that by revealing the name of this city, Trump may have put the sources and methods used to obtain the intelligence at risk.

4. McMaster would not answer whether the president provided “classified information.” He responded that the president’s decision was “appropriate” and said he would not distinguish between classified and unclassified information.

5. McMaster said that President Trump wasn’t even aware of where this information came from. He also said Trump wasn’t briefed on the source of the intelligence, implying that Trump couldn’t have jeopardized sources and methods because he wasn’t aware of them.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

 

About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). You can follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.