Republicans said they would prefer less drama from the White House but generally reserved judgment on reports of President Trump’s sharing of potentially classified information. They said they weren’t sure how to sort out accusations by anonymous sources in news articles.
Congressional Democrats pleaded with Republicans to turn against Mr. Trump, saying bipartisan opposition is needed to rein in a president who they claim is bungling the job.
But most Republicans aren’t ready to renounce the president.
“It is premature to come to a conclusion based on media reports built on anonymous sources,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who was Mr. Trump’s chief challenger during the presidential primary race last year. “There is no doubt that it is important to protect the sources and methods that impact the safety and security of the brave men and women of the intelligence community, that impact the ability to keep this nation safe, but it is only prudent to understand the full facts and circumstances and context before leaping to conclusions.”
Republicans said the intense press attention to the story is distracting, and several lawmakers said they would like fewer flare-ups from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Obviously, it makes it tougher to get our agenda done when this is going on, so it’s concerning,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican.
He said Congress should look at transcripts of the exchange between Mr. Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Washington Post reported that Mr. Trump divulged information designated at a level above top secret.
Top administration officials who were in the Oval Office for the conversation have denied that Mr. Trump risked national security during the meeting, and the president said on Twitter that he has the power to share whatever information he deems necessary.
Democrats, while not independently confirming the reports, said that if The Post’s article is accurate, then the information-sharing would be a betrayal of the intelligence community and could put American relationships with foreign intelligence operations at risk.
“When you’re talking about sources and methods, when you’re talking about potentially compromising a relationship with an ally, that’s troubling to say the least,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner, a Virginia Democrat who is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, another Democrat on the committee, said Mr. Trump may be legally able to share whatever information he wants, but it’s not a good idea.
“I think the central question is whether this is going to put at risk Americans and, as you know, there seems to have been at least several comments from some allies raising questions about whether they might not feel comfortable [about] sharing information,” he said.
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