Colorado Democrats are calling for an independent investigation in the face of a bombshell media report that President Donald Trump shared highly sensitive, classified intelligence about the Islamic State with Russian diplomats during a White House visit last week, a revelation that Trump appeared to both confirm and defend early Tuesday.
The original report from the Washington Post said Trump revealed highly classified information about the self-proclaimed Islamic State to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, provided through a partner of the United States, is considered so sensitive, the details had been withheld from U.S. allies and tightly held within the government. The United States did not have permission to share the intel, the report said, and doing so compromised a relationship with a “critical source of intelligence” on the terrorist group.
In a series of Tweets, Trump said Tuesday 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.”
Following the report, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Arvada, called for an independent investigation while Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver asked “is POTUS jeopardizing intelligence, US allies and the fight against ISIS?” on Twitter.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said the president “should explain to the American people why he divulged classified information to the Putin regime.”
“Sharing intelligence with an adversary jeopardizes counterterrorism cooperation with partners and undermines U.S national security,” Bennet said.
During a news conference with reporters following the Post report, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster labeled the story false, adding he was in the room during the meeting and the intelligence wasn’t discussed.
“The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation,” McMaster said. “At no time, at no time, were intelligent sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”
Trump’s tweets that seemed to confirm his release of the classified information came after McMaster’s denial.
This comes about a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, in the midst of an investigation into possible ties between the president’s campaign for the White House and Russia, prompting renewed calls for an independent investigator in lieu of Congressional probes.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, said it was time for an independent investigation into collusion allegations, saying “the American people deserve the truth about any involvement Russia may have had in our elections.”