Executive Branch

Statements on President Trump's Disclosures of Classified Information

Amira Mikhail, Russell Spivak
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 11:37 AM

We’re rounding up key public statements addressing President Trump’s disclosures of classified information to with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S.

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We’re rounding up key public statements addressing President Trump’s disclosures of classified information to with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, as first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by Reuters. Watch this page; we'll update as new statements are issued.


Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO):

If this is true, the president should explain to the American people why he divulged classified information to the Putin regime. Sharing intelligence with an adversary risks jeopardizing counterterrorism cooperation with partners and undermines U.S. national security.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):

On the leak itself:

I can tell you as a member of the Intelligence Committee, we had not been told that this had happened by this administration,” she said. “It’s very serious, I want to find out what the facts are.”

On this White House more broadly:

Can we have a crisis-free day? That’s all I'm asking.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN):

The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen. Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

If it’s true, it’d be troubling.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA):

[I]f true, this is a serious threat to national security.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT):

You never disclose sources of evidence. It would be almost inconceivable that any president would allow something of that nature out.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

The reports that the President shared sensitive intelligence with Russian officials are deeply disturbing. Reports that this information was provided by a U.S. ally and shared without its knowledge sends a troubling signal to America’s allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future. Regrettably, the time President Trump spent sharing sensitive information with the Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia’s aggressive behavior, including its interference in American and European elections, its illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, its other destabilizing activities across Europe, and the slaughter of innocent civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO):

This is really concerning that he doesn't understand that certain information you don't share with Russia. You just don't. Share. With. Russia. Our only chance of keeping this country safe is good intelligence sources. And if he (Trump) thinks classified intelligence information is something you're supposed to brag about to Russia. I mean, this shows a complete lack of information about what classified information is and how important.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT):

I don’t know when it will be enough for Republicans to understand that we need to get to the bottom of the connection between the president of the United States and the Russian government.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID):

It’s no longer classified the minute he utters it. [The President] has the ability to declassify anything at any time without any process.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL):

I haven’t seen the story. Sometimes this stuff is breaking faster than our ability to check online.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE),

May 15:

Big picture, there’s a lot we don’t know, but I think three things are relevant immediately. The first is sources and methods are the lifeblood of our intelligence community and we need spies because the world is a broken place and we need people to protect America’s interests around the world, and so we need to, as a people, well before you’re a Republican or Democrat, care about sources and methods. Number two, a lot of times, media does kind of hyperventilate real quickly and it’s hard to calibrate some of these stories, which ones are a really big deal, and which ones are maybe not Defcon 4. And so we need to distinguish between illegality and imprudence. It’s really hard for president of any party at any time to violate confidentiality laws because he’s the ultimate declassifier. And point 3 is, it’s Russia. That’s not helpful at this time because they don’t have our interests at heart. Russia wants to fracture NATO. And there’s just a lot about it and that’s bumpy.

May 16:

“Governing tweetstorm to tweetstorm is not a sustainable strategy. And the president has picked a lot of good people,” Mr. Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said on CNN.

“There are a number of really wonderful people, smart people and honorable people in this White House, and they have a really hard job because it just feels like kiddie soccer most days. That people are just following one frenzy to the next frenzy to the next frenzy,” he said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):

President Trump, in a reckless and dangerous manner, has revealed highly classified information to the Russians at a meeting in the Oval Office, information that could expose extremely important sources and methods of intelligence gathering in the fight against ISIS. Further, this could endanger intelligence sharing with a key ally in the Middle East. Protecting our national security is one of the most important tasks a president has, and Trump is failing at it. This new disclosure comes one week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was in the midst of an investigation of possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government in the recent election. All of this makes it vitally important that Trump make public any recordings he has of conversations in the Oval Office. We also need to proceed as soon as possible with the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

If the report is true, it is very disturbing," Senate Minority Leader Chuck 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.”

Sen. John Thune (R-SD):

I would be concerned anytime we're discussing sensitive subjects with the Russians, yes.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA):

If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):

These reports, if true, are of the gravest possible concern,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “It could harm our national security by cutting off important sources of intelligence that protect Americans against terrorist acts.


Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA):

It's all about Russia. Sally Yates (Mike Flynn) James Comey (the Russia thing) meet w[ith] Russia FM sans US press and now the classified leak to the Russians.

This is a crisis of great magnitude.

Trump's reckless leak of classified info to Russians will put lives at grave risk & alienate allies and friends. We have a problem in the [White House].

Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and John Conyers (D-MI):

Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives need a briefing from the national security adviser and the directors of our nation’s intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of these allegations. Congress needs to obtain [audio recordings of the meeting] immediately.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY):

I am shocked by reports that President Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats last week. This certainly raises questions about whether the President recognizes the serious implications of disclosing such sensitive information to an adversary.

I will be meeting later this week with National Security Advisor McMaster in a classified session, and will seek answers about what was revealed and how it could damage American national security.

It’s time for Congress to come together in a bipartisan way, establish an independent commission to investigate, and get to the truth.

Rep. Frank Lobiondo (R-NJ):

Classified intelligence is classified for a reason and must be respected and protected as such at all levels of government. While sharing intelligence against a mutual threat such as ISIS is warranted at times – and in the president’s purview – the US must take every precaution to protect the sources and methods of long-established ally to assist us. These media reports are deeply concerning I will raise the issue surrounding the disclosure of classified information in the house intelligence committee when we meet this week.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA),

May 15:

“If the news reports are true, President Trump has compromised a key source of intelligence collection against ISIS and jeopardized the security of the American People,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Even if President Trump unwittingly blew a highly classified code-word source to the Russians, that would be dangerous enough. If the President outed a highly classified code-word source intentionally, that would be even more dangerous.”

May 16:

Congress must be given a full briefing on the extent of the damage President Trump has done in compromising highly classified code-word intelligence to the Russians.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO):

President Trump and his surrogates’ cozy relationship with Russian officials has always been concerning but his alleged sharing of sensitive and classified information with Russian officials is alarming and constitutes a serious national security risk. The Trump Administration’s erratic and dysfunctional nature plus a lack of transparency when it comes to their Russian ties is jeopardizing our security and democracy. Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO):

These reports are consistent with the reckless behavior we have come to expect of President Trump. I sincerely hope that he did not revealed secret information to the Russians that might violate our international agreements and make it harder for us to get good intelligence about ISIS and other threats in the future.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Speaker of the House:

We have no way to know what was said, our nation’s secrets is paramount. The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA):

The report tonight that President Trump may have shared highly classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador is deeply disturbing. If true, this disclosure could jeopardize sources of very sensitive intelligence and relationships we have with key partners. Given that the subject of this intelligence is reported to be a threat posed by Isis, any compromise would be of the greatest seriousness. 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.

The administration and intelligence community must immediately and fully briefed the House Intelligence Committee on what, if anything, was shared with Russian officials and whether it could impact either our sensitive sources and methods, or our intelligence sharing relationships.

Former Government Officials

Jeremy Bash (former Pentagon chief of staff under President Obama):

Giving the Russians intelligence that our counterterrorism partners have asked us to protect is incredibly dangerous. It will ensure that those partners don’t share with us the information we need to protect ourselves.

Eric Edelman (former undersecretary of defense under George W. Bush):

It’s so mind-boggling, I don’t even know what to say. I’m completely gobsmacked. It’s jeopardizing a human source. It’s the one thing you’re trained to never do.

Leon Panetta (former CIA Director to President Barack Obama):

You are president of the United States. You are not just a T.V. personality. You are president of the United States. You have a responsibility when you speak to speak clearly with authority and speak in a way that doesn’t hurt this country.

Ned Price (former CIA officer and member of the National Security Council staff under President Barack Obama):

This is really the nightmare scenario for the intelligence community.

Wayne White (senior intelligence official at the State Department under George W. Bush):

If true, it is another indication that you cannot possibly control this guy. There are red lines that even presidents are not supposed to be crossing. He has to be protecting his own assets. It is really frightening for our people, especially the people who managed the relationship in getting the information.

Amira Mikhail is the co-founder and director of Eshhad, a nonprofit that is focused on the protection of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East. Amira has worked as a Non-Resident Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and as a legal fellow at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. She is a graduate of Washington College of Law at American University, where she worked with the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, the Human Rights Brief, and as a research assistant to the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee against Torture. She has worked with the International Refugee Assistance Project and the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch and has been published on a variety of legal and social issues relating to Egypt and the Middle East. After graduating from Covenant College, Amira worked for five years in Cairo, Egypt where she worked at the American University in Cairo. She has also worked in Jordan and India.
Russell Spivak is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has previously interned in the Office of the Chief Prosecutor in the Office of Military Commissions.

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