GOP Senator on Alleged Leak: Trump in 'Downward Spiral'

Story claiming Trump disclosed classified info to Russians leads to a dramatic night
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2017 4:04 AM CDT
Updated May 16, 2017 6:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – The news that President Trump had allegedly shared highly classified information with Russian officials led to a dramatic night in Washington, DC, Monday, with lawmakers from both parties expressing shock and White House officials issuing denials. In what the AP calls one of the most bizarre moments, National Security Adviser HR McMaster bumped into a crowd of journalists as he hurried through the West Wing. "This is the last place in the world I wanted to be," he said. He later issued a statement saying the president has only talked about details already known publicly. A roundup of coverage:

  • Russia's foreign ministry says Trump did not reveal classified information. "Yet another fake" story, says a spokesperson, per the AP.
  • In the US, many of the senators gathered for a vote Monday night said they found the allegation disturbing, the Washington Post reports. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, said the administration seems to be "in a downward spiral right now." He said the "chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline" is creating a "worrying environment." John McCain, however, noted that Trump was within his rights to share the information, though he later tweeted it would be "deeply disturbing" if true.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was among the administration figures who issued denials. During the meeting, "a broad range of subjects were discussed among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism," he said. "During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations."

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  • According to Monday's report in the Washington Post, Trump shared information about an ISIS plot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Experts tell USA Today that no laws were broken, since the president has far more power to disclose classified material than any other government employee. The information, however, allegedly came from a foreign intelligence partner, and analysts say the US could face consequences if it has violated an intelligence-sharing agreement.
  • In another strange scene Monday night, White House staffers turned up TVs to drown out the noise after reporters overheard yelling coming from the Cabinet Room, where a small group including Steve Bannon and Sean Spicer had gathered, Raw Story reports. Spicer later told reporters there would be no further White House comment that night.
  • Sources tell the New York Times that the information Trump disclosed came from a Middle Eastern ally who has threatened to cut off the flow of intelligence if it is shared too widely.
  • The Atlantic's analysis of what it describes as a "boneheaded mistake" notes that while it may have been legal to share the information, Trump may have weakened national security by jeopardizing an intelligence-sharing deal.
  • The Hill reports that a tweet from House Speaker Paul Ryan last July was extensively retweeted Monday. "Individuals who are 'extremely careless' with classified information should be denied further access to such info," he tweeted. On Monday, Ryan said the White House needs to provide an explanation.
  • Impeachment is once again being mentioned as a possibility, though Vox notes that there is no chance of it happening unless Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decide Trump needs to be removed from office.
  • A George W. Bush administration Defense Department official only had a brief comment on the episode to make to Politico: "WTF!!!!!!!" the official emailed.
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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