GOP senator: Trump not at fault; leakers are traitors

GOP senator: Blame the traitor, not Trump

GOP senator: Blame the traitor, not Trump 01:09

Story highlights

  • An Idaho Republican defended Trump
  • He said it didn’t matter if Trump disclosed the info ‘knowingly or unknowingly’

Washington (CNN)Idaho Sen. James Risch came to President Donald Trump’s defense on Tuesday, a day after the Washington Post reported the President had shared classified information with Russian officials.

Risch, a Republican on both the Senate foreign relations and intelligence committees, said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that if the report was accurate, Trump was not in the wrong — the Washington Post’s sources were.
“It was not the President of the United States that caused this,” Risch said. “It was some traitor who’s in the chain of command below the President who actually disclosed this. The focus has all been on a legal act, and an appropriate act that the President did, and for some reason, the national media is not in any way focusing on a very illegal and compromising thing that somebody did that has put the national security of America at risk.”
Two former officials who knew about the situation confirmed to CNN on Monday evening that the main points of the Washington Post story were accurate.
The story said that in a White House meeting last week, Trump shared intelligence the US had received from another country — some of which was revealed Tuesday to be from Israel — about the risk of ISIS placing bombs inside of laptops and detonating them on planes.
Risch said it wasn’t “protocol” to tell countries that had given the US information that the US intended to use it, and said Trump would have been right to share the information with the Russians even if he did not realize the information was highly classified.
“What difference does it make whether he did it knowingly or unknowingly?” Risch said.
“It was a fact that he wanted to discuss with the Russians that would improve airline safety — if indeed that’s what it was all about — he made the decision to do that. He has the legal right, and the obligation to do that.”
Risch noted the President was allowed to declassify any information, and said criticism of him doing so in a private meeting was off-base. He said again that people who had told the Washington Post about Trump’s conversation were the ones in the wrong.
“There’s a weasel here,” Risch said. “The weasel is not the President of the United States. It’s the traitor who disclosed these facts to the Washington Post.”