The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee wants a briefing from the White House to explain President Donald Trump’s decision to allegedly disclose classified intelligence to Russian officials. So far, he’s been kept in the dark.
Sen. Richard Burr and his panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, gave a joint press conference on Tuesday in which they urged the White House to put them in touch with people who were in the room during Trump’s meeting last week with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister.
“What we’re attempting to do is to have a conversation with an individual or multiple individuals at the White House that were part of the meeting that the president had with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” Burr said.
Earlier in the day, the North Carolina senator said he had been trying to get on the phone with the White House “all morning,” adding: “Maybe they’re busy.”
“My major concern right now is that I don’t know what the president said,” said Burr, who is leading the Senate investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election. “I know what I’ve read. I don’t go on anonymous sources or — I want to talk to people who were in the room.”
The fact that Burr has yet to hear from the White House is further evidence the administration is struggling to figure out its damage control strategy following the Washington Post’s report late Monday that Trump disclosed information that could jeopardize an important intelligence-sharing relationship. As intelligence chairman, Burr is often briefed by administration officials on sensitive issues and is given a heads up on major developments.
Warner added that he wanted the White House to turn over a transcript of the meeting, in which Trump reportedly disclosed extremely sensitive information received from with a partner country.
“There’s been reports that there may be a transcript,” Warner said. “We don’t know if there’s a transcript. If there is we’d like to see it, appropriately redacted.”
Senior White House officials, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, have denied that Trump revealed sources and methods to the Russians, with McMaster calling the president’s conversation with Russian officials “wholly appropriate.”