Ohio lawmakers Tuesday say they’re hoping for more information about reports that President Donald Trump shared classified information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, saying if the reports are accurate, they should be taken seriously.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, cautioned that “we don’t know what the facts are,” but said “if the reports in the Washington Post are accurate then I’d be concerned.”
“That’s the problem with a lot of this stuff,” he said. “It’s just tough to know what the facts are. But if what the Post is saying is true, there are serious consequences of providing this kind of extremely sensitive information to Russia, especially if it was provided to us in confidence by one of our allies. So we’ll just have to figure out what happened and respond accordingly.”
Trump Tuesday morning appeared to confirm some elements of the reports Tuesday morning, tweeting that he had the “absolute right” to share with Russia “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.” He decried the reports as coming from “LEAKERS in the intelligence community.”
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, said “any reports of inappropriate disclosure or mishandling of classified information must be taken seriously.”
“That said, there has been a tendency by some to rush to condemn every action by President Trump before there’s been time to fully examine the facts,” he said. “The only people who know the whole story are those who were in the meeting, and they have refuted the accuracy of this report. Having not been in the room myself, it would be premature for me to draw any conclusions at this point.”
Through spokeswoman Kelsey Knight, Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is running for governor, declined to comment, calling the reports “speculation.” And Alexei Woltornist, a spokesman for Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, said it was too early to weigh in.
“Since this situation involves possibly classified information, we cannot make decisions based on anonymous sources that contradict first-hand accounts of people in the room,” he said. “That being said, the congressman looks forward to reviewing the information surrounding this…and acting accordingly.”
Democrats, not surprisingly, were quicker to condemn.
“If our allies question whether they can trust the President of the United States, we won’t get access to critical information we need to keep Americans safe,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “While we still need to learn more, even the suggestion that the President of the United States may have shared classified information with Russia puts our national security at risk by threatening our ability to work with key partners in the global fight against terrorism.”
Through a spokesperson, Brown said he wanted to learn more about the reports, and wants the White House to share details of the meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
And Columbus-area Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, said she was signing onto a House petition to force a vote on a bill that would create an independent commission to investigate reports of Russian interference in the elections.
“From President Trump’s irrational firing of former FBI Director Comey, to divulging classified information to the very Russian officials involved in an ongoing FBI investigation—not to mention the many conflicting reports and misinformation coming out of the White House over the past week—Americans are demanding answers,” she said, adding, “it is long past time that we finally get to the bottom of Russia’s interference in our election, as well as any possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The American people deserve to know the truth!
D.C. Bureau Chief Jack Torry contributed to this report.
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