U.S. lawmakers want Trump to explain giving intelligence to Russia
President Donald Trump came under pressure on Tuesday from U.S. lawmakers, including his fellow Republicans, to explain why he shared highly sensitive intelligence information with senior Russian officials at a meeting in the Oval Office last week.
U.S. officials said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at last Wednesday’s meeting.
The New York Times identified the ally as Israel but two U.S. national security sources said they doubted the report.
The disclosure rocked the administration as it struggled to move past the backlash over Trump’s abrupt firing on May 9 of FBI Director James Comey, whose agency was investigating potential ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for more information about reports that Trump gave intelligence information to the Russians, a spokeswoman for the panel said.
Congressional investigators are expected to seek copies of any notes taken during the meeting, a congressional source said.
Moscow’s top diplomat, Lavrov represents Russian foreign policies that are often sharply at odds with U.S. aims in Syria and Europe.
Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday he had an “absolute right” to share facts with Russia so that it can be more active in fighting Islamic State militants.
A U.S. president has the authority to disclose even the most highly classified information at will, but U.S. and allied officials said that by giving information to Russia, Trump had endangered cooperation from an ally that has intelligence on Islamic State.
U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock, a Republican, called for a closed-door briefing for lawmakers.
“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 and know the impact on our national security, our allies, and our men and women protecting our country,” Comstock said in a statement.