Atlanta Journal-Constitution // Greg Bluestein
May 16, 2017
Georgia Democrats pressed Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue to condemn President Donald Trump for revealing highly classified intelligence to Russian officials, reminding them they co-sponsored legislation that would sanction anyone who exercised “extreme carelessness” in handling confidential information.
Democratic Party of Georgia head DuBose Porter said Tuesday that Trump has “undermined the trust of our allies and imperiled our national security” and referred to legislation both Republicans sponsored in July 2016 that would strip security clearances for those who mishandle sensitive info.
The measure, which never gained traction, was a political maneuver introduced in the heat of the campaign by Republicans frustrated that Democrat Hillary Clinton was not indicted for her handling of classified material on a personal email server while she was U.S. secretary of state.
Isakson did not immediately comment on reports that Trump boasted about classified material in a meeting last week with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister – his office said he wouldn’t weigh in until he “has learned all the facts.”
And Perdue, one of Trump’s highest-profile advocates in Georgia, called it a “shiny object of the day for the media and Washington.”
“I want to get back to talking about the debt, the upcoming budget, and this president re-engaging,” he said on Fox Business Network of Trump’s upcoming trip to the Middle East and the Vatican. “Isn’t it refreshing that we have a president re-engaging with U.S. allies around the world on his first international trip?”
Trump said on Twitter he had the “absolute right” to reveal the information, citing “humanitarian reasons” and an effort to goad Russia into stepping up its fight with the Islamic State. His allies have said the law gives the president has wide discretion to declassify information.
But analysts worried that the details could expose the source of the information, putting the nation’s intelligence sources and diplomatic ties at risk. The New York Times reported that Israel provided the intel that Trump shared with Russia.
In a statement, Porter asked whether Isakson and Perdue will hold Trump to the “same standard” they sought in the legislation.
“Their silence is jeopardizing our relationships with our allies and could put American lives at risk,” said Porter.