For the second time in a week, Republicans were forced to handle another scandalous report involving President Trump. This time, it relates to the president allegedly having shared classified information during an Oval Office meeting with Russian officials. The reactions are a mixed bag; some have been eager to immediately defend President Trump, while others were not shy about communicating their dismay.
According to Monday’s Washington Post, “President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.” Both The New York Times and BuzzFeed corroborated this information.
This questionable act by the president comes right on the heels of last week’s surprising discharge of FBI Director James Comey. Just last Tuesday, congressional Republicans were rushing to reply to that abrupt decision.
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster condemns these new allegations, calling them false, stating that President Trump and the foreign minister were only analyzing the similar safety concerns that both nations regarding the Islamic State. He further explained that nothing confidential was confided; anything discussed was already public information.
Republican Senator Jim Risch, on the defense of this week’s report, explained that the president is entitled to and can declassify any information that he receives at any time without having to confer with anyone else. Republican Senator John McCain also came forward with a comparable statement: “We certainly don’t want any president to leak classified information, but the president does have the right to do that.” Despite this comment, it should be noted that the senator’s personal Twitter account called the incident “deeply disturbing.”
Representatives for Republican Speaker Paul Ryan stated that while he is currently not fully aware of the explicit details of what was said, he considers the security of the United States’ information to be extremely important.
In startling contrast and extremely uncommon, some Republicans had no issues expressing how troubling this news is. Republican Senator Bob Corker called for the White House to work harder to gain and maintain control and order: “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips w[ith] all that’s happening.”
Congressional Democrats, while blasting the Post report, also expressed grave concern that if the report is valid, our president has put the national security of his very own country at risk. Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating possible Russian tampering of the 2016 US election and ties with President Trump, tweeted, “If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community. Risking sources & methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, a staunch opponent of the Trump administration, lambasted President Trump’s alleged declassification of information, calling it “reckless and dangerous,” stating that one of the most crucial presidential duties is to protect and preserve the national security of the US.
Many other Democratic leaders came forward expressing their outrage and worry over the report, propounding that both political parties must be apprised of the details of the claims, calling for any audio recordings to be submitted to Congress immediately.
Some Republican leaders like Marco Rubio remained close-mouthed on subject, stating that he had not been privy to the story yet.
While reactions remain staggered between political parties and even within them for now, as facts and falsehoods are presented, opinions may strengthen, weaken, or even change altogether.