GOP Sen.: ‘Weasel’ Who Leaked Details Of Russia Meeting Is The Real Criminal

Alex Brandon/AP

During a discussion of recent revelations surrounding the White House, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) made it clear Tuesday that he thought the only clear criminals so far in the Trump administration was the “weasel” who leaked information to the press about Trump’s recent meeting with Russian diplomats, and other leakers.

In an interview, Fox News’ Martha MacCallum asked Risch, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, how he would respond to Democrats’ calls for an independent or special prosecutor to investigate the President and his associates’ possible ties to Russia, in light of two bombshell stories Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump had shared highly classified information with two top Russian officials that the United States’ had been provided by an ally, which the New York Times identified Tuesday as Israel.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Times reported that Trump had asked Comey to stop the FBI’s investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Risch downplayed Trump’s sharing of classified intelligence with the Russians, saying that he was within his legal right and that Presidents often discuss classified information with other nations. He emphasized, rather, that someone had committed a crime by leaking details of Trump’s exchange with the Russians to the media.

“Now, someone committed a crime here,” he said. “There is a weasel. And that person is the person who got a hold of the information that happened in that meeting between the President and the foreign minister of Russia. And that was classified information that this person got a hold of and they leaked it to the New York Times. That’s a felony. It is un-American. They endangered the lives of their families and other Americans. That person is guilty of treason and should be held to answer for it.”

He called on the Times — though the Post first reported the story on Trump sharing classified intelligence with Russia — to identify their source so that the person could be charged criminally.

In an interview with CNN a few minutes before his Fox appearance, Risch named the publication correctly as the Washington Post.

Earlier, Risch told MacCallum that he didn’t “know anything about the latest on the FBI situation,” but that “it strikes me that I used to be a prosecutor. If somebody came to me and asked me to squelch an investigation, I would have been screaming bloody murder about it and told the world. So I don’t know.”

He later said that he thought Comey would have an obligation to share evidence of obstruction of justice should he have thought that was what Trump was doing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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