Congressional GOP: Trump Told The Russians More Than He Told Us

Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, whose constituents live in the northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, heads to a closed-door strategy session with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the leadership as they try to rebuild unity within the Republican Conference, at the Capitol, in Washington, Tuesday, March 28, 2017.  Rep. Comstock is a key moderate Republican who intended to vote “no” on the Republican health care bill that was derailed last week. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Views

Less than 24 hours after the bombshell revelation that President Donald Trump divulged sensitive, classified intelligence about an Islamic State plot with Russian officials, Republicans on Capitol Hill began complaining that the foreign power now had more information than they did about a potential national security threat.

“We need to have immediate classified briefings on what occurred at this meeting so that Congress can at least know as much as Russian leaders,” Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) said Tuesday.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), a former military intelligence officer, also demanded “a thorough account of the President’s meeting with Russian officials,” including “a transcript of the meeting.”

Several Republican Senators echoed these concerns, and called for similar briefings on the matter.

“If information was shared with the Russian ambassador, it seems to me it’d be okay to share with the U.S. Senate,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) griped to reporters Tuesday.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who sits on the Intelligence Committee, called on the White House to brief the committee “immediately.”

The New York Times and other outlets revealed Tuesday that the source of the intelligence about the laptop explosives was Israel—and it was considered so sensitive that the Trump administration was instructed not to share it even with close allies like Canada and England, much less Russia

As Senate Democrats issued demands for the White House to release to lawmakers the full transcript of Trump’s meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister—to determine exactly what intelligence was shared and to get caught up on the ISIS threat itself—some Republican lawmakers seemed uninterested in obtaining this information.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told TPM that a transcript would be “interesting to see,” but then mused: “Do I need to see it? I probably don’t. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see it.”

Asked if Republicans should use their subpoena power to get the transcripts or recordings of the meeting, Shelby kept repeating: “We may never know.”

Other Republicans disputed their own colleagues’ assertion that they have been given less information than the Russians about the ISIS plot.

“That is not my understanding. That’s ridiculous,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told TPM, adding that perhaps the lawmakers had said this “in jest.”

But even senior Republican lawmakers who lead relevant committees, including Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), told TPM it was true that Trump seems to have revealed more to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak than to Congress.

“Certainly, more than I’m aware of,” he said. “Anything about the [ISIS laptop] threat is more than has been discussed with us.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK