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Udall, Heinrich criticize sharing of classified info with Russians

New Mexico Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall are calling President Donald Trump “disturbing” and “dangerous,” respectively, in the wake of reports that the president shared highly classified information with Russian officials last week, while Rep. Steve Pearce, the delegation’s lone Republican, is taking a wait-and-see approach to the controversy.

“The congressman believes, bottom line, all individuals with any level of a security clearance should be cautious when discussing matters of national security,” Pearce’s spokewoman told the Journal on Tuesday. “Rep. Pearce was not in the room at the time of the meeting, but expects the administration to present all of the facts to the public.”

The White House late Monday called the Washington Post report about Trump sharing classified information with the Russians in the Oval Office “false,” but the president on Tuesday seemed to confirm the story when he tweeted that he did share intelligence information.

In a speech on the Senate floor this morning, Udall, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the episode “stunning” and characterized it as a major crisis for the Trump administration.

“According to the Washington Post and other outlets, President Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador to the U.S. in the Oval Office last week,” Udall said. “This is utterly stunning. Congress needs to find out exactly what happened on a bipartisan basis. But we can tell already that President Trump’s behavior in this incident is very dangerous — dangerous to our national security institutions; dangerous to the men and women overseas who are serving their country and risking their lives.

“Assuming it’s true, the president has endangered our relationship with the partner who gave our security agencies this information,” Udall added. “That has ripple effects that will risk similar relationships with other countries. It also could put our sources at risk.

Heinrich, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took to Twitter Monday night with a series of tweets – or a “tweet storm” – chastising the president for a number of national security controversies since he took office. Heinrich launched the tweet tirade by characterizing Trump’s actions as a “disturbing pattern of recklessness.”

“Any one of these missteps would have resulted in punishments ranging from disciplinary action to jail time for any other citizen,” Heinrich tweeted this morning as an exclamation point on his previous tweets. “But for President Trump, it’s just another day in the White House. This cannot be the new normal.”

Both Heinrich and Udall have called for a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump presidential campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Pearce’s office did not respond to a question about whether he supported an independent prosecutor to look into questions surrounding the Trump campaign and Russia.

On a separate but somewhat related subject in terms of the connection to Russia and the Trump administration, Pearce told the Journal in a statement late last week that he supported Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey earlier this month.

“I thank Former FBI Director Comey for his service to our nation, but of late he has become a distraction to the mission of the FBI,” Pearce said. “Comey, as with the rest of the executive branch, serves at the pleasure of the President. To me, this decision seems to be a long time coming.”

 

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