(Getty/Mark Wilson)

"We are in a downward spiral right now": GOP lawmaker stops pretending to like Donald Trump

In the wake of another Russia scandal, Tenn. GOP Sen. Bob Corker bemoaned the Trump admin's "lack of discipline"


Brendan Gauthier
May 16, 2017 5:02PM (UTC)

With Monday's reports that Donald Trump, "revealed highly classified information" in a meeting with Russian ambassadors last week, it seems the President is once again testing the limits of his party's dogged loyalty.

"We are in a downward spiral right now, and we’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening," Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday. "The shame of it is that we have a really good national security team in place and there are productive things underway through them. The chaos being created by the lack of discipline is creating a worrisome environment."

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Brushing off criticisms from both sides of the aisle — not to mention prior charges of his collusion with the Russian government during the 2016 election cycle — the president maintained on Tuesday morning that it's within his power to declassify any intel he deems necessary, even if on a whim:

In a strictly legal sense, he's not wrong. However, several legal experts at Lawfare argue that Trump's latest misstep implicitly violates his oath of office:

It’s very hard to argue that carelessly giving away highly sensitive material to an adversary foreign power constitutes a faithful execution of the office of President.

Violating the oath of office does not require violating a criminal statute. If the President decided to write the nuclear codes on a sticky note on his desk and then took a photo of it and tweeted it, he would not technically have violated any criminal law–just as he hasn’t here. ... Yet, we would all understand this degree of negligence to be a gross violation of his oath of office.

"I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day," Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a meeting in the Oval Office last week before divulging information which, "had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government," according to The Washington Post.

"It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft," the Post report adds.

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Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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