Trump shared classified info with Russia for 'humanitarian reasons'

US President Donald Trump claims he disclosed highly classified information about an Islamic State terrorist plot to Russian officials for "humanitarian reasons".

In a complicated diplomatic twist, some of the information was provided by US ally Israel, officials told the New York Times. Israel had told the US to handle that information carefully, it has been reported.

Mr Trump used his preferred social media platform to defend his decision, saying he was right to share "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety".

"As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining... to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."

New Zealand shares intelligence with the United States through the Five Eyes network, but Prime Minister Bill English says he isn't concerned about Mr Trump's sharing of classified information. 

Mr English spoke to New Zealand media ahead of meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan.

Mr Trump's national security adviser has leapt to that President's defence, saying Mr Trump didn't know where the information came from.

Lt Gen H R McMaster didn't deny Mr Trump had discussed information deemed classified, but told reporters the information was available through "open-source reporting". That typically refers to reporting that's publicly available, such as news accounts, academic reports or social media.

Lt Gen McMaster says Mr Trump hadn't been briefed on the source or method of the information.

Mr Trump was later informed that he had broken protocol. White House officials then reached out to the National Security Agency and the CIA in an effort to contain any damage.

Lt Gen McMaster was adamant Mr Trump did not have an inappropriate conversation or one that caused a lapse in national security.

Watch the video for analysis from US Correspondent Patrice Howard.

Reuters/Newshub.