Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concern Monday night over reports that President Donald Trump Trump shared secret information about ISIS with Russians.
As first reported by the Washington Post, Trump may have shared highly-classified intelligence with two Russian officials during a meeting last week at the White House.
White House officials denied the story in several statements, including a 45-second on-camera statement delivered by Trump’s national security adviser. But officials refused to answer specific questions, including what precisely the report had gotten wrong, ensuring it would dominate a week that White House officials hoped would be quiet in advance of the president’s first foreign trip.
GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters the Trump White House “has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and order.”
BOB CORKER: "The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It's got to happen."
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 15, 2017
“The shame of it is there’s a really good national security team in place and there are good, productive things that are under way through them and through others,” Corker said. “But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline — it’s creating an environment that I think makes — it creates a worrisome environment.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that if the story is true it would be “deeply disturbing.”
Judy Woodruff speaks with The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe, one of reporters who helped break the story.
Reaction from Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees was full-throated.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California called the story “deeply disturbing” and said if it’s true, the disclosure could jeopardize sources of very sensitive intelligence and relationships with key allies.
“That the Russians would be the potential recipients of this intelligence and may be able to determine its source is all the more problematic, since the Russian interest in Syria and elsewhere is, in many respects, deeply antithetical to our own,” Schiff said. He added that he wants the House intelligence committee fully briefed on what, if anything, was shared with the Russian officials.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted: “If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”
If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians. https://t.co/CRiSC024F7
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) May 15, 2017
The story prompted Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., to tweet: “Protip: Don’t give the Russians classified information. #Classified101.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — who had just had a root canal — read reporters a statement he scrawled out in the dentist’s chair after learning about the story.
“These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern. It could harm our national security by cutting off important sources of intelligence that protect Americans against terrorist acts,” Wyden said.
The controversy engulfed the White House. Reporters spent much of the evening camped out outside of Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s office, hoping for answers. At one point, an eagle-eyed reporter spotted a handful of staffers, including Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, walking toward the Cabinet Room.
Muffled yelling was heard coming from the area near the room, but after a reporter tweeted about the noise, press staffers quickly turned up their television volume, blasting the sound to drown out everything else.
Around 7:30 p.m., Sanders emerged to announce that White House officials would not be answering any more questions for the evening.
“We’ve said all we’re going to say,” she said, asking reporters to clear the hallway.