WASHINGTON – The Republican majority leader of the US Senate asked on Tuesday for a little less drama from the Trump White House, mired as it is in the controversy of allegedly sharing secret information with Russia.
“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things,” Sen. Mitch McConnell said in an interview with Bloomberg, and urged the Trump government to “focus on our agenda,” particularly on tax reform and repealing Obamacare, the healthcare law enacted by former President Barack Obama.
The senator refused, however, to comment on revelations in The Washington Post, later confirmed by other media, that Trump shared secret information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting last week in the White House.
Trump supposedly provided Lavrov with information related to a possible jihadist plot being hatched in the Islamic State to use laptop computers to carry out terrorist attacks on airline flights.
The information was provided by a nation allied to the US and its content was so secret that none of that country’s other allies received it, according to sources cited by the Post.
The White House rapidly denied the report. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in a brief television appearance that Trump never discussed “intelligence sources or methods” with the Russian officials.
But Trump admitted Tuesday that he shared information about IS terrorism with Russia and said he has an “absolute right” to do so.
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump posted on his Twitter account.
He said he did so for “humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed concern about the possibility that Trump shared secret information with Moscow.
“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,” warned Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
For her part, Republican Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that “although the President has the legal authority to disclose classified information, it would be very troubling if he did share such sensitive reporting with the Russians.”