Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s disclosure of highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States was “just weird.”
The remark came in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” after the Washington Post’s David Ignatius asked Sasse whether Trump was living up to his oath of “faithfully executing the office of President.”
The Post reported Monday afternoon that Trump had given the two top Russian officials — during an Oval Office meeting closed to American press — highly classified information that he received from an American ally, and that he had not been granted permission to share.
“It’s not helpful that this was with the Russians, right?” Sasse began, responding to Ignatius. “I mean, this is just weird. We and the Russians do not have aligned interests. They want to exacerbate our internal distrust of each other. They want to fracture NATO. Putin is an enemy of the freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly, which is the beating heart of what America means.”
“Again, there’s technical stuff that happened in this meeting that we don’t really yet know about,” he continued. “But one of the basic duties of someone who’s in a public office and has a public trust responsibility should be to be celebrating what America is about and to be telling that story. Right now, Washington isn’t doing any of that.”
On Tuesday morning, Trump confirmed in two tweets that “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. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Sasse had earlier noted that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s response to the Post’s reporting was “a pretty technical quote.”
“I think it’s actually something quite different from a full rebuttal of the story,” he said.
And he warned against the potential consequences of sharing information that the United States had obtained from an ally that, in the Post’s words, “has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.”
“You know, sources and methods are the lifeblood of the intelligence community,” Sasse said. “The world is a broken place and we need spies around the globe, and you want to be sure that CIA station chiefs all over the globe, when they’re cultivating sources, that their word is taken really seriously. So there’s a lot we don’t know about this story yet. But I think it is important for the public to understand why what the IC, what the intelligence community does, is so important.”
Watch below via MSNBC:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) May 16, 2017