Establishment Republicans fled for the exits Monday in the wake of a contested Washington Post report claiming President Trump had revealed highly classified information to Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.
The Post reported that Trump shared information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. last week — information obtained by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing agreement and that was so sensitive it was withheld from U.S. allies and restricted within the U.S. government.
The report was immediately dismissed as false by senior administration officials. Even in the article itself, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — who was in the meeting — told the Post nothing was shared that was not known already publicly known.
“At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” McMaster said, later calling the story “false.”
“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced,” added Dina Powell, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy, who also attended the meeting in question.
Yet, despite the fact that the Post’s article was both anonymously sourced and highly disputed by the White House, it did not stop some Republicans — particularly those already unhappy at Trump’s style and agenda — from ditching the president at the first sign of trouble.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said through a spokesman that he would be demanding a “full explanation” from the White House.
“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said spokesman Doug Andres. “The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”
The Ryan claim that “we have no way to know what was said” is particularly surprising considering that two top NSA officials who were in the meeting said the Post’s account was false.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tweeted that the report “if true” was “deeply disturbing” — again jumping to conclusions and ignoring the statements from the NSA.
If true, deeply disturbing… https://t.co/gHc10i1pWv
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 15, 2017
Perhaps most dramatic of all, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters that the White House was in a “downward spiral.”
“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen,” he told reporters.
“Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips [with] all that’s happening,” Corker said.
The comments come as multiple news outlets reported that Senate Republicans are getting jumpy with the way Trump’s agenda is progressing, and are considering distancing themselves in order to push “a more traditional Republican agenda.”
Adam Shaw is a political reporter for Breitbart News. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY