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Reporters see 'red herring' in NSA McMaster's denial of explosive Russian story

National security adviser H.R. McMaster speaks to the media about President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office last week in Washington, D.C. Reports indicate that Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russians. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

National security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke to the media Monday outside the White House and gave what sounded like an absolute denial to the explosive accusations from a Washington Post report that President Donald Trump revealed damaging intelligence to the Russians in their meeting last week.

"A brief statement for the record," McMaster began. "There's nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people.

"The story that came out tonight as reported, is false," he said flatly.

"The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time," he repeated for emphasis, "were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.

"Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state," he continued, "remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record account should outweigh those of anonymous sources."

"And I was in the room, it didn't happen," he concluded. "Thanks everybody."

The controversial report from the Washington Post cited anonymous sources, something often criticized by the Trump administration, but was also confirmed by sources to the New York Post, Buzzfeed, and Reuters.

Some reporters saw what they considered to be an incomplete denial of the story. Katy Tur of MSNBC tweeted, "McMaster saying "sources and methods" is a red herring. Article doesn't say Trump revealed sources and methods to Russians."

Greg Miller, the National Security Correspondent for the Washington Post, said that McMaster was simply "playing word games" with the denial, since they did not report that President Trump had revealed intelligence sources or methods.  Miller said they were merely trying to "blunt the impact of the story."

"Nor do any of these White House officials who are denouncing this story," he added, "nor have any of them offered any explanation why if this was all so above board and not problematic in any way, why did the National Security Council coming out of this meeting feel it was necessary to contact the CIA director and the director of the National Security Agency to give them a heads up on what Trump had just told the Russians?"

Miller says the Washington Post 'absolutely' stands behind their reporting.

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