WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser insisted Tuesday that Trump’s revelations to Russian officials about activities by the Islamic State group were “wholly appropriate” and amounted to a routine sharing of information.
H.R. McMaster added that none of the U.S. officials present for the president’s Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister last week “felt in any way that that conversation was inappropriate.”
Trump has been harshly criticized for the decision to share the intelligence last week, but the President insisted Tuesday he had the right to share information with Russia related to terrorism and other issues.
The argument that the President can declassify information when he sees fit is an insufficient justification for his actions, Rep. Jim Himes said.
“It may not be illegal, but that’s completely besides the point,” he said. “If The Washington Post story is to be believed, what happened is the President gave a lot more information than typically would be given.”
So far, some Republican lawmakers have expressed measured frustration about the reports but not to the extent Himes called for.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for “less drama from the White House” when asked during an interview with Bloomberg about the reports Tuesday.
“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan. “The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”
Sen. Bob Corker said the White House appears to be “in a downward spiral” and “the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think — it creates a worrisome environment.”
And Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse called on Trump to remember that Russia is not an American ally.
“Our interests and Russia’s interest do not align. Putin is a bad guy,” he said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.”
He added, “So, it’s not at all helpful that this happened with Russians, but again, particulars about the meeting, we don’t know all that much yet.”
“This is historical. My Republican friends need to think about to moments like Joseph McCarthy and who stood with him and who showed courage and said: ‘This is not us’ or back to the Nixon administration when that administration was coming apart,” Rep. Jim Himes told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.
The Senate intelligence committee meets Tuesday afternoon, and they say they expect Trump’s meeting with Russian officials to be an issue that is raised.
“The Senate intelligence committee has reached out to the White House to request additional information on recent reports about alleged dissemination of intelligence information,” Becca Watkins, a spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, told CNN.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he wanted any transcripts of Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other Russian officials to be provided to the intelligence committee.