Just a day after news broke that President Trump shared “highly classified information” with Russian officials – Sen. John McCain released a statement saying the reports are “deeply disturbing.”
Arizona’s senior senator, an outspoken critic of Russia and President Vladimir Putin, said the president should have been focused on Russia's actions referencing Ukraine, Syria, and elections in the U.S. and Europe.
“Regrettably,” McCain said, “the time President Trump spent sharing sensitive information with the Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia’s aggressive behavior.”
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Trump revealed sensitive intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a White House meeting – citing current and former U.S. officials.
According to the Post, the information allegedly given to top Russian officials was provided by a "U.S. partner" and was so sensitive, in fact, it had been “withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.”
McCain said this could harm the United States’ relationship with allies moving forward.
“Reports that this information was provided by a U.S. ally and shared without its knowledge sends a troubling signal to America’s allies and partners around the world,” McCain said, “and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future.”
Read McCain’s full statement in its entirety:
“The reports that the President shared sensitive intelligence with Russian officials are deeply disturbing. Reports that this information was provided by a U.S. ally and shared without its knowledge sends a troubling signal to America’s allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future. Regrettably, the time President Trump spent sharing sensitive information with the Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia’s aggressive behavior, including its interference in American and European elections, its illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, its other destabilizing activities across Europe, and the slaughter of innocent civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria.”
Trump has not explicitly denied the reports, instead defending his actions on Twitter saying he had the “absolute right” to share “facts” related to terrorism and airline safety.
“Plus,” Trump tweeted, “I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Russian officials have called the reports "fake" and "utter nonsense."
USA TODAY contributed to this report.