Veteran Republican Senator John McCain on Tuesday slammed as “deeply disturbing” allegations that US President Donald Trump had shared top secret intelligence about the Islamic State group with Russian officials.
McCain — one of the president’s most outspoken critics in his own party and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — added his voice to a growing chorus of alarm triggered by Monday’s report in the Washington Post.
“The reports that the president shared sensitive intelligence with Russian officials are deeply disturbing,” McCain said in a statement.
“Reports that this information was provided by a US 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.”
The Republican senator, who takes a hawkish line towards Moscow, regretted that “the time president Trump spent sharing sensitive information with the Russians was time he did not spend focusing on Russia’s aggressive behaviour.”
McCain said that behaviour included “interference in American and European elections, its illegal invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, its other destabilising activities across Europe, and the slaughter of innocent civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria.”
According to the Post, Trump revealed highly classified details of an IS terror threat during a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak.
The information reportedly came from a US ally who had not authorised Washington to share it with Moscow.
Trump hit back on Twitter early Tuesday, claiming the “absolute right” to share “facts” with Russia.
But on Capitol Hill, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle voiced astonishment at the allegations.
“If the report is true, it is very disturbing,” warned the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
“Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country.”