Democratic senators did not hold their tongues after The Washington Post first reported that President Donald Trump unveiled highly classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week.
White House officials vehemently pushed back on the reports. Dina Powell, deputy national security advisor for strategy, called the story false. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security advisor H.R. McMaster both said that intelligence sources and collection methods were not disclosed in the meeting.
Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence community, said such a disclosure would be a “slap in the face to the intel community.” The Virginia Democrat said “risking sources and methods is inexcusable, particularly with the Russians.”
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said the move is “dangerous and reckless.”
Durbin also called on Republicans to “put country before party” and support an independent investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Sen. Bernie Sanders echoed Durbin’s statement, saying that a special prosecutor should be appointed. He added, “protecting our national security is one of the most important tasks a president has, and Trump is failing at it.”
Sen. Tim Kaine said that while these are “shocking actions” they are “sadly unsurprising coming from President Trump.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois was quick to draw a parallel between this disclosure the Trump’s repeated complaints about the leaking of classified information.
Trump has repeatedly expressed frustration about “illegal leaks” on Twitter:
The president has broad authority to declassify information. A former national security lawyer told NBC News that this is true even if it is revealed outside a deliberate declassification process.