Update : Israel was source for some of information shared with the Russians
The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joined Democrats in slamming Donald Trump on Monday over a report the president divulged highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
“To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters, adding that he didn’t know yet whether the report was true. “That’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close, is to prevent that from happening.”
Corker was referring to a report in The Washington Post on Monday that Trump divulged highly classified information involving the Islamic State that officials had obtained through an intelligence-sharing arrangement with a U.S. partner. The arrangement was so sensitive that the information was not even shared with other U.S. allies, according to the Post.
The report, which the White House denied, came on the heels of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last week. Corker told other news outlets the White House is “in a downward spiral right now” and needs to get things “under control.”
A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also expressed concern about the Post report, even as senior administration officials issued on-the-record denials.
“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said the spokesman, Doug Andres. “The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”
Other Republicans were more muted in their criticisms of Trump, saying they had just seen the report and noting that the president has the legal right to disclose classified information.
“We certainly don’t want any president to leak classified information, but the president does have the right to do that because he’s commander-in-chief,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). On Twitter, though, McCain said that if the story was true it would be “deeply disturbing.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who along with McCain has been one of Trump’s fiercest GOP critics, said he did not want to comment until he had more facts.
Democrats expressed shock and outrage at Trump’s latest controversy.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump owed Congress and the American people “a full explanation.”
“If the report is true, it is very disturbing,” Schumer said in a statement. “Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, said on Twitter that “if true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”
“These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the intelligence panel. “It could harm our national security by cutting off important sources of intelligence that protect Americans against terrorist acts.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) called the report “deeply troubling, particularly at a time when we have so many other challenges that are facing us internationally.”
And Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) used the opportunity to note the Republican outrage over the Hillary Clinton email scandal. On Twitter, he drew attention to a post last year from Ryan. Referring to Clinton, the speaker wrote, “individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ with classified information should be denied further access to such info.”
But senior members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, issued statements denying that Trump disclosed “sources and methods.”
“The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false,” McMaster said. “At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”
source : politico