Democrats and some Republicans are now demanding more information about that Oval Office meeting, saying the president has potentially put national security at risk. Bob Corker made a splash on Monday afternoon when he stated that the White House was in a "downward spiral".
The administration initially discounted the details of reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, Buzzfeed and elsewhere that the president gave the Russians a detail about terrorist bomb-making that might help it identify USA sources in the Middle East. If that's not chilling enough, there is the distinct possibility the Russians may have a complete transcript of what Trump said, since their state-owned news agency, Tass, was allowed to remain in the room when US news media was barred. But Mr. Trump, as commander-in-chief, sits atop the system of classified information.
"At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly", he said at the time. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources in the news report, he said. But John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Trump-Russia reports were "deeply disturbing" and could impede allies' willingness to share intelligence with the U.S. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.. An excerpt from an official transcript of the meeting reveals that Trump told them, "I get great intel".
The information was provided by a USA partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement.
Anxious about keeping tabs on the highly sensitive material, the Obama administration officials set new limits on some classified information and explicitly barred Trump aides from viewing that material in their transition offices.
The events detailed in the explosive Post story occurred days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in the midst of the bureau's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
Late Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey in February to drop a federal investigation into Mr. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. There's a danger foreign partners, beyond the government that shared the sensitive source, will "turn inward, and reduce or limit sharing even on issues outside the counterterrorism realm", the former official said.
The Israelis said they had full confidence in the intelligence-sharing relationship with the US, contradicting reports earlier this year that the Israelis had considered withholding secrets from Trump, at the urging of American colleagues anxious about their own boss.
The CIA is declining to comment. He says the Senate Intelligence Committee has requested additional information about the meeting from the White House.
Another White House official, Dina Powell, also offered denial of the reports, calling them "false" in a statement Monday night. "And I think most of us fully admit we all make mistakes, obviously". "This is a basic rule which President Trump obviously does not know", he said.
Reaction from Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees was full-throated.
"The disclosure of highly classified information has the potential to jeopardize sources and to discourage our allies from sharing future information vital to our security", Sen.
Around 7.30pm spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders emerged to announce that White House officials would not be answering any more questions.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted: If true, this is a slap in the face to the intel community.
"Sometimes damage is caused from the content of the revelation, even if he does not say the methods and sources", Yatom told The Jerusalem Post.
It's not clear what "changes" Toomey was referring to on Tuesday, though there's talk of Trump lecturing his communication team to "get on the same page" with reports of an impending major staff shakeup. He can no longer echo White House talking points, which may well be seen as part of the attempt to obstruct justice.
Reporters started gathering in the hallway outside Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office right after the Post story broke.